Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Review: Miss Benson's Beetle by Rachel Joyce

Title: Miss Benson's Beetle

Author: Rachel Joyce

Year Published: 2020

Category: Adult fiction
Pages: 368
Rating: 4.5 to 5 out of 5

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map) UK and New Caledonia (part of France)

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): 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 insect that may or may not exist—the golden beetle of New Caledonia. When she advertises for an assistant to accompany her, the woman she ends up with is the last person she had in mind. Fun-loving Enid Pretty in her tight-fitting pink suit and pom-pom sandals seems to attract trouble wherever she goes. But together these two British women find themselves drawn into a cross-ocean adventure that exceeds all expectations and delivers something neither of them expected to find: the transformative power of friendship.

Review: I heard that this book had similarities to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and that's all I needed to hear to get a copy. And it's true. Both main character are women who are socially awkward and have family "issues." And both books worked really well for me as a reader.

Look at that cover! I love the colors, especially the gold beetle, and the design and font. It all works. But, a book is more than its cover and this one just delighted me from start to finish. Margery needs to find her life and Enid needs to get away from her life so they are a perfect pair, they just don't know it. The idea of these two misfits traveling cross the world to find a beetle that doesn't exist in a place where they don't speak the language or know what they are doing seems very 18th century, but its the 1950s, which makes the travel a little easier.

I loved everything about this story: the characters, the writing, the adventures, the mishaps, the finding of themselves, the women's friendship, and more. After the acknowledgments (which I always read) the author did two really cool things: she tells the story of the inspiration for the book and specifically her two main characters and she interviews the two main characters. I loved this! We learn even more about them through the author's probing questions and the characters' honest answers. By the end of the interview I had forgotten they were just fictional characters and I had a huge smile on my face!

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • A to Z (title)--"M"
  • Literary Escapes--New Caledonia
  • Popsugar--book on my TBR list with the prettiest cover

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