Tag Archives: rachel joyce

Lil Red’s Book Club: Miss Benson’s Beetle By Rachel Joyce Edition

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Lil Red’s Book Club: Miss Benson’s Beetle By Rachel Joyce Edition

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:

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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

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

I’m currently in the process of rereading one of my all time favorite books, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce. I really can’t recommend this book enough. It. Is. Beautiful. Our story begins with an older couple, Harold and Maureen at the breakfast table. Their marriage has been unsatisfactory for years. A lot of bitter feelings, particularly about their son, David has really drawn them apart. The mail arrives during their meal, which includes the usual bills and catalogs – but there’s something else. A pale pink envelope addressed to Harold Fry. The letter inside is from a ghost of twenty years past, Miss Queenie Hennessy. The note informs Harold that Queenie has cancer, and she was writing to say good bye. Harold got up from breakfast, and wrote back to Queenie immediately. He informed Maureen he was walking down the street to the mail box, and was out the door. He began to walk. Once he reached the mail box, he fancied he would walk on to the next one, since it was such a nice day. Once he reached the second mail box, he figured he would go one farther, since it was only a block away. He walked some more, and eventually tired himself out, so he stopped at the gas station for some refreshments. At the station, Harold and the young lady working had a game changing conversation. Once Harold mentioned his letter to Queenie and her current medical condition, the young lady informed him that her aunt also had cancer. She told Harold that he had to remain positive. He had to truly believe that Queenie would recover. She said that the faith that she had that her aunt would feel better was the only thing that gave her aunt hope. Then, Harold had an idea. He would walk to Queenie. He would walk from Kingsbridge to Berwick-upon-Tweed. And while he walked those five hundred miles, Queenie would keep living. He called the hospice that Queenie was residing at and told the nurse to tell Queenie once she awoke from her nap that he was walking to her, and that she had to keep living until he made it there. He then called Maureen and told her of his plan, to which she scoffed and told him he wouldn’t get past five miles. He exited the phone booth and began to walk. He had no cell phone, no hiking equipment, and no map. He had the clothes on his back, his wallet, and a pair of yachting shoes. The more that Harold walked, the more people he encountered. They shared their stories with each other. These strangers would confide in Harold and hope for the best for him on his journey. While Harold walks, secrets of his past that he thought had been tucked away begin to spill out. His mother leaving, his drunk father, the constant mother figures walking in and out of his life, his son. All of these memories would come to surface as Harold walked. He walked for Queenie. He walked for Maureen, even if she was unhappy with his decision. And most importantly, he walked for David, whose approval Harold was trying to earn for years.

Every chapter of this book introduces either a new location Harold passes through, the story of a stranger, or a memory from the past. It really is a page turner! Rachel Joyce’s writing is just gorgeous. Her ability to paint a picture of the scenery that Harold is walking through makes you feel like you’re putting one foot in front of the other along with him.

Have any of you guys read this book before? What did you think of it?? Leave me a comment and let’s chat! -Sarah