There is nothing wrong with Margery Benson's imagination, it just needs to be set free, and finally at the age of 46, it is unleashed! Along with assistant Enid Pretty, these unlikely companions set forth from England in 1950 on the adventure of a lifetime: to find the golden beetle of New Caledonia. Their search for this mythical insect becomes an exhilarating journey of self-discovery requiring large doses of gumption and its twin, risk-taking.
Both comedic and deeply affecting, this is a captivating story of both the power of friendship and the lasting effects of war.
Once you got over the absurdity of the story, you then appreciated how funny the book was, and even laugh out loud at times! A sweet story about true friendship.
Mixed reactions - some thought it was 'rubbish' and did not finish it. Others really enjoyed it, and there was much discussion about how the two eccentric and very different women became close friends and coped with their crazy adventures, with humour and sadness. Summed up by the Guardian - " A joy of a novel, with real insight into the lives of women, the value of friendships and the lasting effects of war".
Having so enjoyed 'The Music Shop' and 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry', and despite the clever writing, overall we were disappointed with Rachel Joyce's 'Miss Benson's Beetle' - despite all the excellent reviews!
A delightful book. Made us want to head back to our museum, and pull out the insect drawers which fascinated us as children.
An enjoyable read, a great insight into relationships/friendships.
We didn't all love this book - two members found it too whimsical and were irritated by unrealistic details, like the passports. But most of us loved it, especially the development of the characters, and how two lonely and dissimilar women found friendship and meaning together in an unlikely expedition to the other side of the world. And besides dealing with emotions, it is also a very funny book. Margery's running away from her horrible school with the lacrosse boots is high comedy.
This book had a mixed reception. Some of us loved the unlikely pairing of two damaged women, as they set off on the quest of a lifetime. Although others had a more lukewarm approach, we did have a satisfying discussion on the nature of friendship, following your heart's desire, and finding qualities in yourself you never knew were there.
Most of us really enjoyed and found realism in the portrayal of all the characters including the environment, in the time of post WWII. This period of rationing and limited opportunities, of psychological damage to POW soldiers, the English presence in French New Caledonia, incited considerable discussion. In an engaging and humorous manner, in spite of some extremism, as polar opposites with different goals, Margery and Enid's friendship developed to a close trusting bond as they coped with all odds, learning from and supporting each other...
We enjoyed the book - interesting discussion.
All agreed - a most enjoyable book. You never knew what would happen next. As the story unfolded the characters developed to be congenial. Is there going to be another story about Miss Benson?
This book was the highlight of our year. We were unanimous in our enjoyment of the story. The writing was colorful with moments of humor and sadness intertwined. We loved the way the relationship between Margery and Enid was developed. Highly recommended.
We all loved this book and there was a lot of looking up to see what else the author had written besides this and 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry'. Loved the characters, and we all enjoyed the descriptions of the diplomatic wives' activities!
Everybody thoroughly enjoyed this book. A delightful read.
Disappointed with ending, but still loved it! Quirky, with so many layers and topics covered. Magical with mystery.
The book was delightful and we all loved it. Raises so many questions around why we respond as we do to ourselves and others, and how the context of any of our lives can change in an instant.
With one exception, we LOVED this book - the change in balance between Enid and Margery was wonderful. We thought it was light and amusing, and then by the end felt as if we'd been punched in the stomach!