I’m delighted to welcome you today to my stop on the blog tour for the incredible Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce. Thank you as always to Anne Cater and Doubleday Books for giving me the opportunity to read and review this gorgeous book.
About the book:
“The differences between them – all those things she’d once found so infuriating – she now accepted. Being Enid’s friend meant there were always going to be surprises. However close they were it didn’t entitle her to Enid’s memories and neither did it allow her to be part of Enid’s life before they met. Being a friend meant accepting those unknowable things. It was by placing herself side by side with Enid that Margery had finally begun to see the true outline of herself. And she knew it now: Enid was her friend.”
It is 1950, two unlikely women set off on a hare brained adventure to the other side of the world to try and find a beetle, and in doing so discover friendship and how to be their best of themselves.
This is quintessential Joyce: at once poignant and playful, with huge heart and the same resonance, truth and lightness of touch as her phenomenally successful debut, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.
Britain, post Second World War. In a moment of madness Margery Benson abandons her sensible job and advertises for an assistant to accompany her on an expedition. She is going to travel to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist.
Enid Pretty, in pink hat and pompom sandals, is not the companion she had in mind. But together they will find themselves drawn into an adventure that exceeds all expectations. They must risk everything, break all the rules, but at the top of a red mountain they will discover who they truly are, and how to be the best of themselves.
This is a novel that is less about what can be found than the belief it might be found; it is an intoxicating adventure story but it is also about what it means to be a woman and a tender exploration of a friendship that defies all boundaries.
About the author:
Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Perfect, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, The Music Shop and a collection of interlinked short stories, 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 CommonwealthBook prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Rachel was awarded the Specsavers National Book Awards ‘New Writer of the Year’ in December 2012 and shortlisted for the ‘UK Author of the Year’ 2014. Rachel was a Costa prize judge and University Big Read author in 2019.
She has also written over twenty original afternoon plays and adaptations of the classics for BBC Radio 4, including all the Bronte 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.
I was a huge fan of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, so I was very excited to be given the opportunity to read Rachel Joyce’s latest novel, Miss Benson’s Beetle, as part of the blog tour for Random Things Tours. And wow, it did not disappoint!
Set in 1950 it tells the story of two unlikely women, who set off on an adventure to the other side of the world to try to find a beetle that may or may not exist. But what they discover is something even more life affirming: A true friendship and how to become the people they were always meant to be.
In postwar Britain, Margery Benson comes to the decision to abandon her sensible job and travel to the other side of the world in search of a beetle. She hires Enid Pretty has her assistant who, in her pink hat and pompom sandals, is a far cry from the companion she had in mind. They say that opposites attract and you couldn’t get two people more different if you tried! I fell in love with Margery and Enid from the outset as they really are the beating heart of this story.
Determined to find a rare golden beetle, Margery feels that the time is finally right to emerge from a shell of her own making, a shell that’s steeped in a lack of self worth and loneliness, to become the person she was always meant to be. But she knows she won’t be able to do this alone, so begins the search for an assistant as she prepares for her journey to a far away land. And then in steps Enid, a larger than life character who, even though Margery doesn’t know it yet, is exactly the person she needs.
What follows is a story that will at times make you belly laugh out loud and at others will make you cry, and sometimes it will even make you do both at the same time. This unlikely duo, as different as they are, are somehow just meant to be together, at a time when they need each other the most.
I honestly couldn’t love this book any more if I tried. Rachel Joyce’s writing is pure perfection and in Margery and Enid she has created two unique characters who I know I will never forget. Miss Benson’s Beetle is a story about finding friendship in the most unlikely of places, of learning to love yourself for who you are and, last but not least, to find the strength deep within yourself to finally let go of the past and to embrace the future.
A beautiful, at times heartbreaking, but ultimately uplifting book that I would highly recommend.
Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce is available to purchase now: Amazon UK
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