Title: Miss Benson’s Beetle
Author: Rachel Joyce
Published: July 21st 2020
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
A story about the smallest insect and the deepest friendship from the author of THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY and THE MUSIC SHOP
Margery Benson’s life ended the day her father walked out of his study and never came back. Forty years later, abandoning a dull job, she advertises for an assistant. The successful candidate is to accompany Margery on an expedition to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist. Enid Pretty is not who she had in mind. But together they will find themselves drawn into an adventure that exceeds all Margery’s expectations, eventually finding new life at the top of a red mountain.
This is a story that is less about what can be found than the belief it might be found; it is an intoxicating adventure story and it is also a tender exploration of a friendship between two unforgettable women that defies all boundaries.
An inspiring and nourishing novel from open to close, Miss Benson’s Beetle is the latest composition from award winning British author Rachel Joyce. An unforgettable story of the formation of an unlikely relationship, the trip of a lifetime and a good dose of self-belief is captured on the pages of this touching new novel from Rachel Joyce.
With an insect directing much of the proceedings in Rachel Joyce’s 2020 release, Miss Benson’s Beetle introduces the keynote character of Miss Margery Benson. A woman suffering from the loss of her father and her great love, Margery has been unable to find any sense of fulfillment in her life. Margery decides to take control of her faltering life and she quits her long-standing job. Margery chooses to embark on a completely new career and mission. The first thing Margery does after leaving her job is to appeal for an assistant. This assistant will accompany Margery on an all important journey to find a rare golden beetle – that Margery isn’t sure exists. But when Margery employs Enid Pretty to accompany her on this life affirming mission, she thinks she may have made a big mistake in employing this troublesome woman. However, the two women seem to beat the odds and dodge many bullets while trying to find Margery’s illusive golden beetle. But will this magical golden beetle ever be found?
I have wonderful network of fellow book bloggers and like-minded readers that managed to convince me to read Miss Benson’s Beetle. I’m glad I valued their opinion so much, as I was rewarded with a fantastic read from Rachel Joyce. Miss Benson’s Beetle is my first experience of the writing Rachel Joyce and I’m sure based on this very positive first experience, I will no doubt be seeking out more of this gifted storyteller’s work. For reviewing purposes, it might be worth noting that I listened to this book on audio format, which was beautifully narrated by British actress Juliet Stevenson, a truly magnificent fit for this book in my view!
For those who appreciate a good-natured female friendship story, I would be inclined to pop Miss Benson’s Beetle on your reading list. I really loved the presentation of the odd but touching relationship between Margery and Enid, the two female leads of Miss Benson’s Beetle. At first there is a fair bit of tension, resistance, fighting, misunderstanding and difference between the two leading ladies. However, as the narrative gently and beautifully progresses, an unexpected relationship flourishes between this rather odd couple, which touched my heart. Joyce’s impressive and well-rounded characterisation helps to build a solid picture of these two vital cast members. The support cast are just as vivid, contributing essential elements to this highly engaging narrative.
What I loved about Miss Benson’s Beetle was the high adventure and expectation set by the main premise, which is zoned in on the search for a mystical golden beetle. The hunt for the golden beetle was one of the reasons I stayed true and devoted to this novel from start to finish. I was just as keen as the two leads to get my hands on this rare beetle! I was with the main characters every step of the way on their agonising and eventful journey to locate this rare specimen. Joyce illuminates a wonderful backdrop, with plenty of stunning scenery and even a high seas expedition for the reader to contend with on this very trying trip.
With values of endurance, resilience, survival, grit, determination, risk, trust, humour, despair and personal growth forming the very backbone of the book, Miss Benson’s Beetle is a heartwarming tale that exudes plenty of hope. Miss Benson’s Beetle is a precious tale that I recommend highly to all readers.
Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce was published on 21st July 2020 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.