November 3, 2020
Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Adventure, Quest
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
…equal parts entertainment and tragedy…
Thank you #NetGalley @RandomHouse for a complimentary e ARC of #MissBensonsBeetle at my request. All opinions are my own.
Rashly, Margery Benson decides to make a major change in her life. She walks out on her teaching job and decides to set out on an expedition to find a rare golden beetle that she remembers from her favorite childhood book. Miss Benson doesn’t have much money and she needs to find a traveling companion/assistant. As a result of the interview process, she finally hires Enid Pretty, a fun loving and vivacious person who wears a lot of pink, attention-getting clothing and impractical sandals. Even though Margery and Enid are complete opposites (foils), they compliment each other in unique ways. Their trip from England to New Caledonia is filled with adventure, obstacles, heartbreak, and peril. Will they find the golden beetle?
Zany! Some reviews are more difficult to write than others! Miss Benson’s Beetle is quite a zany story filled with unique and quirky characters….I’m almost left at a loss for words.
Writing: First, I need to mention that Rachel Joyce is one of my favorite authors. In this story she weaves entertainment with tragedy. Her creative writing is exquisitely detailed and her characterizations are brilliant! (Harold from The Music Shop, Harold Fry and Queenie, for example!). She’s also a great story teller! If you read Miss Benson’s Beetle simply to appreciate fine writing, you will not be disappointed.
Although the male character in the story adds suspense and tension, I feel like he was almost unnecessary and that focusing on friendship and the quest would have been enough. It added a darkness to the story which I wasn’t expecting.
Plot: Be prepared for hilarious and crazy adventures with unsuspected plot twists and a generous serving of peril and suspense (almost slapstick). Parts of the story require a suspension of disbelief and the twists and turns are zany. It’s not all fun as there are some tragic parts, too. I enjoy the perfect balance of character-driven and plot-driven, and Miss Benson’s Beetle is likely the most creative, unique, and unforgettable story I’ve read this year (despite not loving the ending).
Quirky Character: If you’ve ever been tempted to “throw in the towel” and remake your life, this might be the story for you! Margery starts out sad and unhappy and is troubled over a traumatic childhood event where she loses her father. As an adult, she’s socially awkward and lacks self confidence. What she lacks in these areas, she makes up for in determination, spunk, and bravery. As she takes charge of her life and faces many challenges throughout the story, she becomes a different version of herself, finds true friendship, and experiences “found family.”
Themes: Equally parts entertaining and tragic, thoughtful themes abound in this story and include childhood trauma, friendship, trust, loyalty, second chances, risk and adventure, resilience, grief, and found family.
***Trigger Warnings may contain spoilers.***
Content Consideration: the early part of the story does involve a suicide by gunshot; there is also a stalker and one violent scene at the end of the story; PTSD.
Recommended: If you love quirky and unique stories with beautiful writing and zany adventures, you might want to put this on your TBR (it does have some sad and tragic parts, too). If you are a fan of Rachel Joyce, Miss Benson’s Beetle is not to be missed! This story also lends itself to a great book club discussion!
My Rating: 4 Stars
Meet the Author, Rachel Joyce
Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Perfect. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was short-listed for the Commonwealth Book Prize and long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and has been translated into thirty-six languages. Joyce was awarded the Specsavers National Book Awards New Writer of the Year in 2012. She is also the author of the digital short story A Faraway Smell of Lemon and is the award-winning writer of more than thirty original afternoon plays and classic adaptations for BBC Radio 4. Rachel Joyce lives with her family in Gloucestershire.
Is Miss Benson’s Beetle on your TBR or have you read it?
Are you a Rachel Joyce fan?
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