Hi everyone and welcome to a new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! Today, we are going to be discussing the newest book by Rachel Joyce called Miss Benson’s Beetle. I am a huge fan of Rachel Joyce, as she authored one of my favorite books, The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry, so I was very excited to read Miss Benson’s Beetle. Like Harold Fry, it was nothing short of delightful and told the tale of an unlikely duo going on a big adventure. So, without giving any spoilers away, let’s discuss:
Marjory Benson is a homely woman living in 1950s Britain with a large stature, no remaining family, or any meaningful relationships. She is a teacher of domestic sciences and, more often than not, is the subject of cruel jokes from her students. One day, after a particularly nasty cartoon rendition of her was passed throughout her class, she had enough and marched (Rather, limped) right out of the school. It was a “straw that broke the camel’s back” moment and she was ready for an adventure.
As a child and young adult, Marjory had a fascination with collecting beetles, which sprang from looking through a book of undiscovered creatures with her father. This book included the Golden Beetle that is supposedly found in New Caledonia and it has never left the back of her mind since. Now unemployed, Marjory decides that this is her time to travel across the world, find the beetle, and name it after her father.
Of course, this will be no easy feat and Marjory decided that she needed an assistant to accompany her on her search. Her interviews with potential candidates left a lot to be desired and, in the end, Marjory was stuck with the last option she wanted to go with – a young, flashy woman by the name of Enid Pretty. Enid is everything that Marjory isn’t. She’s talkative, outgoing, fashion forward, and an instant annoyance to Marjory. Despite their differences, Marjory needs an assistant and Enid joins her on the extensive traveling from Britain all the way to the Pacific island of New Caledonia.
Little does Marjory know, her assistant is bringing a lot of baggage along with her and I’m not talking about the traveling kind. Well, that too, actually, considering Enid brought countless suitcases with her! Enid is a woman on the run and a trip across the world is her perfect getaway. Later, in their journey, Enid is named one of Britain’s Most Wanted Criminals with Marjory wanted for association. Can the women continue to evade the law, find the beetle, and salvage some form of friendship? Read Miss Benson’s Beetle and find out!
It has been a long while since I read a book that I would consider “light” as I am drawn to mysteries and psychological thrillers and Miss Benson’s Beetle was like a breath of fresh air. It was such fun to join the odd couple of Marjory and Enid on their adventure and I felt eager to read it every day. From their travels on boats, trains, and a stolen Jeep to them trekking through the New Caledonia rain forests for an undiscovered beetle, I felt like I was with them every step of the way. I laughed when Enid said something silly, cried for their hardships, and felt my heart pounding every time they came in contact with the police.
I loved this book because, at the end of the day, it was a testament to the power of friendship no matter how unlikely. It also gave Marjory Benson, a woman who spent her life wishing she was invisible, a chance in the spotlight. All she needed was the help of Enid to coax her shine out of her. Watching Marjory transform into a confident woman while Enid matured through Marjory’s guidance was a joy. I was rooting for their success the whole time and I just know that you will too.
Miss Benson’s Beetle was one of the best feel good books I’ve read in years and I can’t recommend it enough. I am going to rate it with the prestigious ten out of ten stars for brilliant characters, a unique story line, and the wonderfully descriptive writing of Rachel Joyce. I enjoyed it so much that I wouldn’t mind reading it again and I literally just finished it!
What are you currently reading? Which book should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah