A warm-hearted and surprising adventure story, Miss Benson’s Beetle has the classic pairing of two contrasting characters who find friendship despite their differences.
Set in the 1950s, the story follows Margery Benson, a frumpy middle-aged schoolteacher. She’s lonely and unfulfilled. One day she suddenly decides to quit, in favour of a quest to find the legendary golden beetle of New Caledonia. However, she needs an assistant and companion to help her out. Enter the voluptuous, baby-obsessed Enid Pretty. They’re not suited at all but it looks like they have an interesting journey ahead…
The dynamic between the two characters is the most enjoyable element of this book. I also liked the descriptions of their journey and of New Caledonia (don’t worry, I didn’t know where it was, either), in the southwest Pacific Ocean. Themes included the social and mental health effects of the two World Wars and the importance of women’s friendships. I found that my interest in the book lessened after the halfway point. It felt too lengthy and slow paced. I found it hard to connect to the characters and would have liked a first person narrative for at least one of them.
In summary, this is a good read and you’ll enjoy it if you like contrasting characters. I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re beetle-phobic.
Thank you to Transworld for the advance copy via NetGalley. The book will be published on 23rd July.
14 thoughts on “Review of ‘Miss Benson’s Beetle’ by Rachel Joyce”
Nice review! I love books about journeys such as this, so I hope to read this one soon too, though the title is a little uninspiring and bland – but since I have not read the book – maybe I am unfair in this regard. That cover is just amazing as well – from all the book covers I have seen so far in 2020, I really think it is my favourite.
Thanks! 🙂 I think you would enjoy the book, it takes a while for the journey to get going though. The title is a little unmemorable I think but there is a significance to her beetle so I suppose it seems the most fitting. I agree the cover is lovely!
Thank you! 🙂
Not being beetle-phobic, I think I would enjoy this!
I think you would! 🙂
Ah… I liked it more than you did, I see. It is one of my favorites for this year. I didn’t feel it slow down in the middle, but hey, no two people read the same book so…
I liked the book – it’s not one of my favourites for the year obviously but I’m glad I read it! It’s good that we all have different opinions of books, including the pacing!
I too have this title for review and I very much look forward to reading it. I usually love anything by Rachel Joyce.
This is my 2nd Rachel Joyce read 🙂 I’m sure that I’ll be reading more from her in the future. I hope you enjoy your review copy!
Definitely NOT beetle phobic! 🤣🤣🤣 LOVED THE REVIEW, N! I am so glad you enjoyed this one thoroughly! ❤️😇
Thanks! I’m not that keen on insects in general but I can appreciate how amazing they can be 😀
A great review. I’d heard of this and was intrigued by the title but wasn’t sure what to think. I’m not exactly a fan of beetles but by the sounds of the story I think the plot would overcome any iffy feelings about beetles I might have, lol
Thanks! It’s certainly a different kind of book, and the first one I’ve read about beetle hunting! 😉