Miss Benson's Beetle

Miss Benson's Beetle

Book - 2020
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"From the international bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry comes an unforgettable, funny and charming story of a marvelous adventure and unexpected female friendship. It is 1950. In a moment of madness Margery Benson abandons her sensible job and advertises for an assistant to accompany her on an expedition. She is going to travel to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist. Enid Pretty, in pink hat and pompom sandals, is not the companion she had in mind. But together they will find themselves drawn into an adventure that exceeds all expectations. They must risk everything and break all the rules, but at the top of a red mountain they will discover their best selves. 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, but it is also about what it means to be a woman and a tender exploration of a friendship that defies all boundaries. "--
Publisher: Toronto :, Bond Street Books,, 2020
ISBN: 9780385681261
Branch Call Number: FIC Joyc
Characteristics: 337 pages : map ; 21 cm

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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pansey
Aug 03, 2020

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

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