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Miss Benson's Beetle

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  36,027 ratings  ·  5,700 reviews
She's going too far to go it alone.

It is 1950. London is still reeling from World War II, and Margery Benson, a schoolteacher and spinster, is trying to get through life, surviving on scraps. One day, she reaches her breaking point, abandoning her job and small existence to set out on an expedition to the other side of the world in search of her childhood obsession: an ins
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published November 24th 2020 by Dial Press (first published July 23rd 2020)
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Sheryl Nope - I skimmed the second half in case I was missing the 5 star bit - it didn't get any better for me.…moreNope - I skimmed the second half in case I was missing the 5 star bit - it didn't get any better for me.(less)

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Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  36,027 ratings  ·  5,700 reviews

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Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Reading Miss Benson's Beetle brought to mind the works of Charles Dickens and also, a beautiful Masterpiece Theater movie, to be made someday (I wish). I haven't cast the characters of Margery Benson and Enid Pretty, in my mind yet, but I'll get back to you on that. I know I won't be forgetting this book for a very long time.

In 1914 London, when Margery is ten years old, she loses her father, four brothers, and her home, all at the same time. Margery and her mother go to live with her extremely
Rachel Joyce weaves an emotionally moving, magical, offbeat historical adventure novel set in the 1950s, a post-war drab and colourless Britain of shortages and rationing, of two widely different women that appear to have little that could possibly connect them, embarking on a entomological trip in search of the mythic rumoured golden beetle in the Grande Terre, and the New Caledonia archipelago. The large 47 year old Marjery Benson is an unmarried woman working as a teacher, her shoes falling a ...more
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)

5 stars for this incredible surprise of a novel! I pretty much went into this book blind. I’ve never read this author but there was so much buzz around Goodreads that I had to grab it. I am so glad I did! If you like an adventure and well-developed characters, this is the book for you.

Margery Benson was only 10 years old when something very traumatic happened to her. It would impact the rest of her life and how she felt about herself.

The story rea
“The truest friendships are those that allow us to step out of the confines of what we once were, and to realize instead what we might be”.

It’s 1950, and Margery is a middle-aged unmarried teacher who decides to chuck it all and go in search of an elusive beetle in New Caledonia. She can’t do it alone and so enlists the help of a companion. Enter Enid, a woman who is the exact opposite of Margery. They could not be more ill-matched, both in appearance and personality.

Defying all the odds, they e
Angela M (On a little break)
There are quirky characters in this story that at times seemed far fetched. BUT - these are characters who touched my heart and had me rooting them all the way. Margery Benson suffered a traumatic experience as a ten year old and then in her twenties, a big disappointment. She leads a lonely, secluded life without friends and an unsatisfying career as a home economics teacher. A gold beetle in a place far from London that doesn’t exist until it’s found, according to her father, is what Margery B ...more
Miranda Reads
Apr 26, 2021 rated it really liked it

Just finished my April OwlCrate & OUABC Mystery Unboxing & Review Video !

Discount code for OUABC: MIRANDAREADS10


The surprise book box from Once Upon a Book Club came from their Nov. 2020 Adult box - and featured none other than Miss Benson's Beetle!

I really, really enjoyed the book this round - it was such a wild rush - the emotions, the adventures and the love. The gifts were so unique and fun to open!

For a full review- check out the video!!

YouTube | Blog | Instagram |
Sep 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
An emotional read for me, telling a story of a most unlikely friendship between two women who share nothing at the beginning and something most precious at the end of the novel.
Margery Benson, in her late forties, lonely and alone, a school teacher, mocked and humiliated, decides to leave her job and in a way return to her dream of finding a beetle in New Caledonia and give it to the Natural History Museum. The beetle is the symbol of happy childhood she had thanks mainly to her father until a t
Dear Miss Benson,

I hate to bug you, but I just haven’t been able to keep my mouth shut since I heard about your trip to find me—a beautiful golden beetle, if I do say so myself. Hello? Don’t you realize that I’m off on a secluded island in the middle of the Pacific, with thick jungle trees and underbrush hiding my digs? I have to say, a three-legged chihuahua has a better chance of catching a frisbee than you and your ditzy assistant have of finding me. Plus, you don’t even know if I exist. Am I
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
EXCERPT: When Margery was ten, she fell in love with a beetle.

It was a bright summer's day and all the windows of the rectory were open. She had an idea about sailing her wooden animals across the floor, two by two, but the set had belonged to her brothers once and most of them were either coloured-in or broken. Some were missing altogether. She was wondering if, in the circumstances, you could pair a three legged camel and a bird with spots when her father came out of his study.

'Do you have a
Elyse Walters
….I wasn’t naturally drawn to it - (however you’d think I’d wise up- those 4,541 Amazon reviewers with their overall 4.5 rating - couldn’t all be ‘perky-supporting-family-members’ of Rachel Joyce…..
perhaps I was being the holdout buzz-kill scrooge?/! I guess I was.
The MINUTE after read Betsy Robinson’s enthusiastic review —
—I surrendered…..(enough resistance already—Betsy has never lead me wrong)…
I immediately downloaded the Library e-book….and dived it
I loved this book and it’s quirky characters. Margary is in her late 40s and has never married although she had a decade long crush on a professor at the Natural History Museum. She never dresses up or goes out. She’s a teacher at the local school, until one day when the students make her the target of a joke. She’s upset, humiliated and on the spur of that very intense moment, steals the PE teacher’s soccer boots. That job is toast! Since Margary’s world is now spinning on the lam, she decides ...more
Terrie  Robinson
"Miss Benson's Beetle" by Rachel Joyce is an amazing Friendship Fiction story!

Margery Benson is going on an expedition to the other side of the world accompanied by Enid Pretty, as her dubious assistant, to a place and in search of a beetle that may or may not exist. How is this questionable relationship and precarious journey ever going to work?

It's an adventure from start to finish with Margery's wishful grand plans, Enid's outlandishness, their highly unlikely friendship, and their combined
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a captivating and beautifully written story set in 1950 of an unlikely friendship and a tenacious quest for a golden beetle. Margery Benson has been fascinated by insects and after an incident at the school where she teaches domestic science she decides she has nothing to lose and plans a journey to New Caledonia to find this rumoured but as yet unfound beetle. She interviews for a companion and her eventual choice by default is Enid Pretty and talk about chalk and cheese! You come to lo ...more
Rating 4.5

Wow! Another great one in the new year. Honestly, I saw a few reviews of this one and thought 'beetles' not my thing. Then when browsing my library audio listing the cover caught my attention. I tested the audio and then snagged it. I really didn't remember what it was about but figured, I'll give it a go. And sometimes....that ends up being the best surprise ever.

Margery Benson is dull, a school teacher to horrible children, and a spinster (oh I DO take issue with this as she is young
Carolyn Walsh
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for an advanced copy of this fabulous, enthralling book. It evoked strong emotions from sadness to joy. The description of post-war England and the vivid, atmospheric portrayal of the jungle was transporting. The story was lovely and beautiful despite all the hardships and conflicts endured.

The characters of Marjorie Benson and Enid Pretty were well developed and told with humour and passion. Marjorie was a large 47-year-old spinster, very p

4.5 Stars

This story begins, briefly, with a day in Margery’s life that will impact her view on life from that day on, and since she is only ten years old at that time, in 1914, it will have a fairly significant impact on her view of life, and her ability to trust in others throughout her life. Her father calls her aside to show her a book called Incredible Creatures, sharing some of the curiosities inside. A man with a tail where his legs should be, a squirrel with wings. Creatures who might exi
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
I really, really loved this. I buddy read it with Beth back in July. What a gem!

Miss Benson’s Beetle is my first book by Rachel Joyce. I’ve definitely been missing out.

Set just after World War II, Margery Benson is a teacher on the edge-of something great? Of something new and something completely different than the stale life she’s been living. She’s also on the verge of discovering the tenacity she’s had all along, and she does that through her friendship with Enid, who also happens to be her
Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
4.25 Fun Character Stars

This is my first read by Rachel Joyce and I see why she has a lot of fans. This one was the perfect book for these times as it was a great escape. There’s a quest to find a magical golden beetle, an exotic location, and characters that I rooted for to find happiness.

We first meet Margery Benson during tragic events in her childhood that shape the woman she becomes. We flash forward about 40 years and she’s just plain miserable working at a school and unhappy with her life
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another winner from this excellent author in which we meet Margery Benson, a forty seven year old teacher who admits to herself that she is overweight, frumpy and stuck in a boring, friendless life. An unfortunate experience with a class of teenage girls forces her to re-evaluate and change in some remarkable ways.

Rachel Joyce has a tremendous talent for writing characters we can empathise with and love even when they have serious issues! Margery is such a character and so is Enid, the woman she
I was a huge fan of author Rachel Joyce’s “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frey” as I love stories about disenchanted people, not living authentic lives, learning how to live, to find purpose. Plus, I love stories about curmudgeon sorts who find their warm interior. In Joyce’s current novel, “Miss Benson’s Beetle” she chooses a female protagonist who begins an unlikely journey of her own: to find a mythical gold beetle that hasn’t been documented.

Margery Benson endured a traumatic youth after
In 1950, 47 year old, frumpy spinster Miss Margery Benson walks out of her job as a domestic science teacher, after being humiliated by her students and decides she is going to follow her childhood dream of finding a rare beetle in the wilds of New Caledonia. Accompanying her, as the most unlikely of companions, is the young and attractive Enid Pretty.

This novel was a delight to read. Rachel Joyce creates such wonderful characters and Margery and Enid are both marvelously human and flawed. Tota
Three Stars

I chose this book because I once read a wonderful book called Perfect by Rachel Joyce, and now she's one of my favorite authors. She's also a British author and I very much enjoy that locale in my books.

This book takes place in post WWII Britain. Miss Benson is a large woman in her late forties with no sense of dress and is a bit of a loner. As the book begins she is teaching a class where a note is being passed around with a horrid caricature of her. This sends her over the edge to t
Margery Benson, fictional character, represents a ground-breaking woman who sets on a journey across the world to find an elusive golden beetle of New Caledonia. With her assistant, polar opposite, they also break grounds in getting to know each other and creating an endearing friendship. Written with phenomenal humor.

London, 1914. Ten year old Margery doesn’t share her father’s love for insects until he introduces her to the golden beetle of New Caledonia. No one has found and cataloged it yet.
I am confused. Did I read the same story as the majority of readers? I hate to be an unkind person, but I never really understood Miss Benson's Beetle.

Marjory Benson led a sad and lonely life. She had no family life to speak of, did not get along with her co-workers and, until she was 47 years old, she never had a friend. She gave up her simple existence to pursue a golden beetle halfway across the world.

I found Marjory not an easy woman to like. She oozed disappointment. I empathized with her
Jan 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
While skimming some reviews once I was midway through Miss Benson’s Beetle, I saw several trigger warnings for animal abuse. ALERT, ALERT! Even though that would have made me pass entirely on the novel had I known it beforehand, I decided to keep going hoping it wasn’t too horrible. For my fellow tenderhearted friends, this is what happens:

(view spoiler)
Sep 28, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I have a hit or miss history with Rachel Joyce. It took me a while to engage with this one. We’ve got two quirky characters. Miss Benson lost her father as a child. Her main connection with him is a desire to find an Incredible Creature, a creature believed to exist but never documented. In her case, it’s to find the Golden Beetle in New Caledonia. To which end, she hires Enid Pretty as her assistant. They’re opposites in every way imaginable. I found I cared for both women, outcasts for entirel ...more
Jul 21, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2021

I'm afraid I won't be joining the Miss Benson's Beetle fan club.
It's possible I had very high expectations. I knew early on this wasn't going to be a five-star book for me, but was hoping for a four.

I love books about quirky female characters who get second chances and find their true selves etc. This novel checked those boxes. It even had some amusing situations.
While Miss Benson was the more fleshed-out character, the others were cartoonish. I thought the storyline of Mr Muncic, a prisoner
Nov 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
‘When Margery was ten, she fell in love with a beetle.’ It was a passion built flimsily on a picture of a golden beetle her father showed her out of a book of strange incredible creatures. It was no ordinary beetle and I could picture how beautiful it must be – a golden soft-winged flower beetle 'like a gilded raindrop.’

Years later at age 46, having weathered personal losses and suffered humiliation at the hands of her students, Miss Benson quit her job as a domestic science teacher and decide
Barbara K. (On COVID rebound)
So much to say about this book!

I continue to be amazed at the number of novels hitting the shelves that feature strong women who take control of their lives and work to become their best selves. The settings and plots are completely unrelated in these books; what connects them is willingness of the main characters to ignore the social norms prevailing at the time and follow some inner compass toward fulfilling themselves.

These are books about survivors, not just in the sense of enduring (those a
Nov 23, 2020 rated it liked it
I can see that a lot of people would like this book…and I could see that some people would not be too hot about it. It was sort of corny…for lack of a better word. One has to set aside reality…of course one would have to do that…the number of things that happened in this book got more and more absurd…and more and more like a Hallmark made-for-TV movie. But still and all, it was not an unpleasant read. The chapters were pleasingly short. The ending I did not expect at all. But when I look back at ...more
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Rachel Joyce has written over 20 original afternoon plays for BBC Radio 4, and major adaptations for both the Classic Series, Woman's Hour and also a TV drama adaptation for BBC 2. In 2007 she won the Tinniswood Award for best radio play. She moved to writing after a twenty-year career in theatre and television, performing leading roles for the RSC, the Royal National Theatre, The Royal Court, and ...more

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