Book Review: Miss Benson’s Beetle


This latest novel from Rachel Joyce is a gem. While I have enjoyed all her books that I have read – especially The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold FryMiss Benson’s Beetle is special. It is a story of grief, friendship, and the bravery a woman must muster if she is to lead rather than follow – the rewards of trying, whatever the obstacles faced.

The two main protagonists are recognisable and perhaps not initially admirable. They are developed into cracking creations.

Miss Margery Benson is a schoolteacher in her forties who carries a weight of heartache she has learned to suppress. The book opens in 1914 when, as a ten year old, Margery’s father shows her a picture of a golden beetle rumoured to exist in New Caledonia – a French territory comprising dozens of islands in the South Pacific. In that moment, something is awakened in the child…

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