I bought Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce in Sainsbury’s, just before Waterstones reopened. I loved Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and also enjoyed her other novels – Perfect and The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy. But mainly I bought Miss Benson’s Beetle because I judged a book by its cover and I loved both the cover and the title.
Britain in 1950 is a dreary place. Margery Benson is 46, childless and unmarried, and stuck in a dead-end job as a domestic science teacher, where she is disliked by both the pupils and the staff. One day, she loses the plot and walks out on her job. She is going to follow her dream.
As a child, her father told her about an extremely rare gold beetle, rumoured to live in New Caledonia, but nobody had ever found one. Margery decides she is going to track down the gold beetle. She advertises for an assistant to travel with her on her expedition.
Enid Pretty, in her pink suit and dainty shoes with the pom poms, is not the assistant Margery had in mind. But together they make the journey to the other side of the world and up a mountain in search of the elusive beetle.
This is a wonderful book about female friendship, following your dreams and getting out of your comfort zone. It’s sweet and quirky and I absolutely loved it. Margery and Enid are fabulous characters and their friendship is the best friendship you could possibly imagine. Wth just the two of them on the other side of the world, they have to do literally everything for each other.
A quote on the cover from the The Times claims this is ‘Rachel Joyce’s best book yet… ‘ and I would totally have to agree. It is isn’t happy and sweet all the way through, Margery and Enid face plenty of dangers, but it is a book which really leaves you with a smile on your face.
I would recommend Miss Benson’s Beetle to anyone. It is a joy to read.