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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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4.6 out of 5
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  • Magical

    Miss Benson's Beetle is an unconventional historical adventure novel set in the 1950s. It is a magical tale of two women, Margery Benson and Enid Pretty, who appear to have little in common, committing to a trip to New Caledonia in search of the mythic rumoured golden beetle. As they are drawn into an adventure that exceeds all expectations, an unlikely friendship blossoms. Rachel Joyce's characterisation of Margery and Enid was second to none. Unmarried Margery, aged 47, was working as a teacher, until she decided to leave after one humiliation too many. Her beloved father sparked a life long passion for etymology, particularly for the elusive golden beetle. For her part, chatterbox Enid, with her bright, yellow-blonde hair, her creams and potions, and her colourful outfits, thrived on being the centre of attention. Both women have their own reasons for leaving the country. In a truly wonderful story, quirky characters who both irritate and endear are in abundance. Also, the setting is so well delivered that the heat, humidity and foreignness are inescapable. As secrets are gradually revealed, wildly amusing moments are balanced with terrifically moving occasions of sadness. The two women's unlikely friendship is the main element of the story though other ingredients in this fabulous literary cocktail of emotions are grief and guilt, independence and self-worth. Talented author, Rachel Joyce definitely does not disappoint with Miss Benson's Beetle. I received a complimentary copy of this novel at my request from Random House, Transworld Publishers/ Doubleday via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.

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    4 person found this review helpful

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  • Female Fry

    Rachel Joyce created an unforgettable character in Harold Fry and she’s done it here again with Margery Benson. It’s very easy to draw some parallels however this is very much a fresh story in its own right with not just one but two characters in the fullest sense of the word as Margery’s assistant Enid is as glorious as the title character. I think Margery’s background is so important to the story as it’s the motivation behind her travels whereas I like that we only have a small amount of background on Enid, which is drip fed, as her personality is what makes her such fun. The contrast between the two and the impact they have on each other as the story progresses is what makes this story the delight it is. As the story progressed I couldn’t work out whether I wanted them to discover the beetle or not as it just became less and less significant however II think Rachel Joyce took the story in just the right direction, I don’t think I’ve ever read a story about etymology before but it made for an intriguing adventure and Margery’s passion for it was joyous to read about. This is a gem of a novel.

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    1 person found this review helpful

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  • Time in isolation

    A great read, nothing predictable in the story, sad but very lovable characters.

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  • Joyful read

    I really enjoyed reading this, looked forward to the adventures that lay ahead within each chapter.

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  • A good read!

    I loved this book. It's quirky; but the characters and the story are developed throughout the book. It's incredible but never for a minute did I suspend my belief in the story or the characters. Rachel Joyce has such sympathy, understanding for those who stand a little aside of society. There are great insights and words of wisdom as realization dawns on the characters. A brilliant book which I have thoroughly enjoyed. More please !

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