Miss Benson’s Beetle
By Rachel Joyce
Dial Press Trade Paperback, 9780812996708, November 2020, 368pp.
The Short of It:
What a treat. Fans of Joyce won’t be disappointed.
The Rest of It:
Margery Benson is a schoolteacher in 1950’s London, and not a very good one at that. She can barely get by, is harassed by her own students and isn’t comfortable in her own skin. Pushed to her limit after a particularly bad day in the classroom, she takes off on an expedition to New Caledonia in search of a rare golden beetle that her father once told her about.
But first, she needs an assistant. The last person she had in mind for the job is the one who eventually shows up to take it. Enid Pretty, with her shock of yellow hair, her cotton candy pink suit and her pom pom sandals trots into Margery’s life and from day one is a major annoyance. But Margery is pressed for time as her ship is about to leave the port and she knows she can’t do it alone, so Enid is it.
What a charming story. Although the expedition is a little far-fetched, I found myself hanging on every word as these two take off on their adventure. Two, very headstrong, quirky women traveling to the other side of the world with little to no experience under their belts. This makes for a very entertaining read but it’s not all fun and games. Very early on you are tipped off that something larger is at play. This is one of those stories that you can’t put down because it’s so fun and quirky and yes, different but you know, you just know there is going to be a serious payout. That was definitely the case here.
Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine would do well by picking this book up. It has the same tone and feel and the way this friendship develops is quite sweet. Overall, it’s a feel-good book although there are two things that happen that made me a little sad. Those who have read it know what I mean. However, don’t let that stop you because I wish I still had more of the story to read. It’s that kind of story. I’ve read two other books by this author, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Music Shop and I loved them as well. Joyce knows how to write a good story.
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
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14 thoughts on “Review: Miss Benson’s Beetle”
This belongs on my reading list… thanks!
Yes, it does!! You’ll have it read in a couple of sittings too.
This does sound intriguing. Imagine being that fed up with your job that you just drop it all and leave the country on an adventure…and with someone unexpected. Sounds like a quirky and fun ride.
Absolutely!! It has some funny moments but tugs at the heartstrings too.
Sounds like a ME book; I love quirky characters.
Have you read Transcendent Kingdom? OMG, I loved it – no review yet.
I think you would like these two women. The story is a little over the top but the antics of these two and then for the story to have a bit of depth was nice too.
Haven’t read Transcendent Kingdom yet. I read her other book for book club awhile back liked it. Can’t wait to read your review of it.
I really enjoyed this one too. A lovely portrait of a friendship.
I agree. I have loved all of Joyce’s books so far. I still have two to read, the one about Queen Hennessy (Harold Fry sequel) and the one titled Perfect.
I’m so glad you enjoyed this one, Ti. I did, too. I couldn’t help but love those two quirky women!
I saw a photo of two women that the author used for inspiration. It was nothing like the Enid she created but so cool. I can’t find it now or I’d share it.
I loved Eleanor Oliphant, but only liked Harold Fry, so I’m not sure if I’m the right reader for this book. Maybe I’ll get it from the library some day.
Because of the two strong female protagonists, I think you’d like this one more than Harold but yes, the library is a good place to find a copy. No need to run out!
Ok. Putting this on my TBR list because it sounds good and because you referenced Eleanor Oliphant! I loved that book.
You will love it!