Miss Benson's Beetle

Miss Benson's Beetle

A Novel

eBook - 2020
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A beautifully written, extraordinary quest in which two ordinary, overlooked women embark on an unlikely scientific expedition to the South Seas.”—Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
 
From the bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry comes an uplifting, irresistible novel about two women on a life-changing adventure, where they must risk everything, break all the rules, and discover their best selves—together.
She’s going too far to go it alone.
 
It is 1950. London is still reeling from World War II, and Margery Benson, a schoolteacher and spinster, is trying to get through life, surviving on scraps. One day, she reaches her breaking point, abandoning her job and small existence to set out on an expedition to the other side of the world in search of her childhood obsession: an insect that may or may not exist—the golden beetle of New Caledonia. When she advertises for an assistant to accompany her, the woman she ends up with is the last person she had in mind. Fun-loving Enid Pretty in her tight-fitting pink suit and pom-pom sandals seems to attract trouble wherever she goes. But together these two British women find themselves drawn into a cross-ocean adventure that exceeds all expectations and delivers something neither of them expected to find: the transformative power of friendship.
Praise for Miss Benson’s Beetle
“A hilarious jaunt into the wilderness of women’s friendship and the triumph of outrageous dreams.”Kirkus Reviews
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

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LibraryReads November 2020

Nothing says “must read” quite like a Librarian’s stamp of approval! Every month LibraryReads.org releases the top picks for the month, as voted on by Librarians across the country. Subscribe to Tacoma Library’s e-Newsletter service and get the Library Reads picks and more delivered straight to your inbox. Check out the LibraryReads’ picks for November 2020: Miss Benson's Beetle Before the Coff... (more)


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p
phyllis94941
Nov 12, 2020

Thanks to Random House Publishing Group – The Dial Press and NetGalley for a digital advance reader's copy. All comments and opinions are my own.

Wow! What a satisfying book! The subtitle says it all: "An uplifting and redemptive story of a glorious female friendship against the odds." This is an ultimately heartwarming novel of two misfits who learn from each other about life, hope, and joy. It's the kind of book that started with quirky characters who soon became women I cared about, as I cheered for their success. Alongside the plot of Miss Benson's trip to New Caledonia to find an undiscovered beetle for the Natural History Museum with her assistant Enid Pretty, the author includes themes of family and what it means to be a woman in the 1950's. The characters offer many insightful observations about life, hope, and relationships as their adventurous search for the beetle progresses. This bittersweet story will stay with you long after you read the last page.

u
Urbano
Nov 12, 2020

4.5 stars. I absolutely loved this engaging, joy-filled story shaded with moments of deep sadness.

Drab and downtrodden Miss Benson, whose life has been tainted by tragedy and disappointment, is teaching a domestic science class one day when she becomes aware that her students are cruelly mocking her. Something in her snaps. Unable to take anymore, she walks out of the classroom forever (and what teacher hasn't wanted to do that!) and vows to do whatever it takes to fulfill her long held dream of finding the elusive golden beetle of New Caledonia. Never mind that she's middle-aged and in bad shape, never mind that she isn't a scientist, never mind that she barely has enough funds for her expedition. She advertises for an assistant and thus meets Enid Pretty, the most unlikely naturalist's assistant you could imagine. Off they go by boat to Australia and then on to the exotic, often forbidding, rain forests of New Caledonia.

Rachel Joyce has such a gift for creating engaging characters that readers love root for. Margery Benson and Enid Pretty are two of her best. I was completely absorbed in their life stories, their travails and losses and especially in their budding relationship. I also loved the often madcap mood of this story which reminded me of one of my favourite movies "Some Like It Hot".

In fact, my only quibble with the book is with one aspect of the ending that I found disappointing and unnecessary. Nonetheless, highly recommended for lovers of up-lit and sun-lit

b
brangwinn
Nov 03, 2020

Of course, this is a heartwarming book, all of Rachel Joyce’s books are heartwarming. This goes beyond heartwarming. It expands on the belief that you are capable of much more than you think. Margery Benson, oh how I disliked her at the beginning of the book. She’s a spinster, stuck in a teaching job she hates after World War II. She’s set in her ways. She’s a large woman living in a world that admires pretty petite women. If I were to use a color to describe her, I’d use “brown.” After stealing the headmaster’s pair of lacrosse books, she flees. She has always been interested in entomology and has dreamed of finding the golden beetle of New Caledonia. Her assistant on the journey to New Caledonia is a dizzy cute, bleached blonde who cannot shut up. The two opposites make quite a duo as they head to the jungles of the South Pacific Island. Both are stronger and more resilient than either would suspect, and each learns to appreciate the other’s skills and each other’s courage.

d
darladoodles
Oct 28, 2020

Margery and Enid go careening over sea and land to set up camp and search for the legendary golden beetle. This book is just chock full of surprises at every turn. The journey to discovery involves more than just the hunt for an elusive beetle. This is just delightful, but also heartwarming and heartbreaking at times. There is a bit of cat and mouse and lots of outdoors time. I want to keep any additional hints on the plot to a minimum so others can discover this gem as I did. Includes a fictional interview by the author with the two main characters as well as reading group questions and other bonus material. Highly recommended for book groups and Christmas gifting.

DCLadults Oct 07, 2020

A New & Noteworthy staff pick 2020. The core of this uplifting book is an unusual quest and an unlikely friendship between two very different women. It’s the 1950s and they head off to New Caledonia in search of a rare golden beetle. The characters are unique and the setting is magical.

h
H2055248X
Aug 20, 2020

This is a beautiful book, written with tenderness and great insight of the bonds that form for women open to face their vulnerability and strengths. I loved the humour of the text as it unfolded the grief, loss, shame and uplifting hope that was central to this story.

p
pansey
Aug 03, 2020

i really loved this book,great story,she made me laugh with her quirky humour

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