Synopses & Reviews
From the bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry comes an uplifting novel about two women with nothing in common who trek across the world in search of a beetle that may not exist — and end up discovering a friendship that defies all boundaries.
She’s going too far to go it alone.
London, 1950. The city is still reeling from World War II, and Margery Benson, a schoolmarm 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 pompom sandals seems to attract trouble wherever she goes. But together these two British ladies 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.
“Whatever you may look for in a novel — adventure, fully realized characters, humor, poignancy, a chance to learn something new — is all here in Miss Benson’s Beetle. What’s also here is the particular grace and humanity that Rachel Joyce brings to her work. She reminds us that we all are broken in one way or another, but that we are capable — oftentimes in unexpected ways — of helping to make ourselves and others whole. This beautifully written novel is an absolute delight.” Elizabeth Berg, author of The Story of Arthur Truluv
“Rachel Joyce is a masterful storyteller, and has written the perfect book for these times. Funny, perceptive, and life-enhancing — I urge you to read it.” Sarah Winman, author of When God Was a Rabbit
“Miss Benson’s Beetle is a pure joyride. Sweet, witty, poignant, filled with intrigue and unlikely friendship, it’s a perfect escape. I loved it.” Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours and The Book of Lost Friends
“I fell in love with the unlikely friendship between two wildly different women — their devotion to each other as they trek up and down mountains in someplace called New Caledonia is a hysterical delight. This novel made me realize how hungry I am for stories about women loving each other into being their best selves.” Ann Napolitano, author of Dear Edward
About the Author
Rachel Joyce is the author of The Music Shop, the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Perfect, and The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, as well as the digital short story A Faraway Smell of Lemon and a story collection, A Snow Garden & Other Stories. Her books have been translated into thirty-six languages and two are in development for film. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Joyce was named the Specsavers National Book Awards “New Writer of the Year” in December 2012 and shortlisted for the “UK Author of the Year” 2014. Joyce has also written more than thirty original afternoon plays and adaptations of the classics for BBC Radio 4, including all the Brontë novels. She moved to writing after a long career as an actor, performing leading roles for the RSC, the National Theatre, and Cheek by Jowl. She lives with her family in Gloucestershire.