Book Reviews

Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce

In 1914, a ten year old Margery Benson falls in love with a beetle. In a booked called Incredible Creatures, her father shows her a picture of The Golden Beetle of New Caledonia. Moments later, Margery’s world will be irrevocably changed.

In 1950, Margery flees her stultifying teaching job, advertises for an assistant, and starts packing for her expedition to New Caledonia to discover the Golden Beetle that has haunted her all her life. Finding an appropriate assistant proves to be much harder than Margery thought possible, and she finds herself sharing a cramped cabin on the RMS Orion on a five week voyage across the seas to Brisbane, with the irrepressible Enid Pretty.

Margery ‘was finally doing the thing she’d dreamt about as a child…She was travelling to the other side of the world. It wasn’t just the ship that had been unmoored. It was her entire sense of herself’.

As Margery and Enid journey together, Margery discovers her true self: ‘I am a woman who is ready for adventure’. She also discovers what it means to have a true friend, as Enid shows her unconditional love and support.

I found myself totally invested in Margery and Enid’s quest, as they battled the heat, the cyclones and the deprivations they encounter in New Caledonia. As Enid points out, this is Margery’s ‘vocation’ just as having a baby is hers, and you cannot ‘just walk away’. You need gumption! I fell in love with Enid and her love of life, and her unending support of Margery and her dream.

I rushed to the end of the book, and then was crushed when I reached it. Miss Benson’s Beetle is a total delight; it will make you laugh out loud, and it will make you cry. Not to be missed!

Reviewed by Gaby Meares
Murder on a Monday Reading Group

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Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce

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