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Miss Benson's Beetle

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  15,231 ratings  ·  2,881 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, 400 pages
Published June 11th 2020 by Doubleday
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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  15,231 ratings  ·  2,881 reviews

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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
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Madgery 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
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 re
“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
Miranda Reads
Apr 26, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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 |
Angela M
Nov 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
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
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5000-2020
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
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
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

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
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
Nov 30, 2020 rated it liked it
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
Barbara K
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
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
Jan 15, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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)
Nov 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
4.5 stars

What is better than a sincere and loving friend? If you have one, it's easy to explain. However, for Margery Benson, an spinster teacher, a friend is not something you have. Margery does have a dream though, a kind of strange one for a middle-aged woman, but dream she does of acquiring a golden beetle supposedly found near white orchid plants in New Caledonia. It's a beetle spoken of by her late father, one that has not been captured, but Margery feels she is the one to have her name up
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
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
Dec 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, kindle
  Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group- Random House for an egalley in exchange for an honest review.

I enjoyed every single moment of Margery Benson and Enid Pretty's adventure to 1950's New Caledonia. The unlikely pairing of these two women kept me on the couch reading when I probably should have been doing housework. I am a big fan of Rachel Joyce, who I feel is the female counterpart of Fredrik Backman. Thank goodness that not all characters are long-legged twenty-somethin
Crystal Craig

Read this with my friend Claire for Pardon my Books. After reading some rather heavy books lately, this was precisely what I needed—something light and fun. Seriously, someone should make the movie. Think Thelma and Louise only with older ladies. Or maybe Grumpy Old Men but with women.

Categorized as historical fiction, I think it reads more like chick-lit. Regardless, it was funny as heck, and I laughed from page 1. I connected with Margary "Marge" right away—Enid, I took a little longer to
Oct 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The setting is post-war England where there is still rationing and life is still difficult for everyone. Margery Benson is a child at the beginning of this story. She's with her father in his study. He walks out and she hears a gunshot and never sees her father again. She and her mother go to live with her aunts, where Margery is basically ignored. Forty years later, Margery walks out on her teaching job, hires an assistant, and goes in search of a mythical golden beetle she thinks will be found ...more
Ellery Adams
Apr 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved everything about this book. The character growth, the tender friendship between two very different women, and how the love and support of one person can give a person the courage to change for the better. It wasn't all smooth sailing, but the hardships bring depth to the lighter bits and make the whole crazy but wonderful plot more believable. Sure, some of the loose ends tied up in a predictable way, but I didn't care. The language was lovely and the sentiments were so perfectly stated ...more
Umut Rados
Landing on a 3 star. I loved the premise of this book, but didn't love the execution as much.

It felt too long, too slow in the middle. It took me ages to finish it. There are parts I liked, but overall I found it a bit sloppy in its storytelling.
The introduction of the creepy guy was totally unnecessary. It took so much space, it was very inconsistent, and didn't contribute to anything except for the very end.
I think it would be so much better if Joyce focused on the 2 women, their adventures a
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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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