Miss Benson's Beetle

Joyce, Rachel

  36 Reviews

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.



Most of us nearly gave up in the first 1/3. It seemed formulaic and uninteresting, the characters were caricatures, however those of us that persisted all ended up enjoying it. We liked the setting and the beetle references. None of us felt it was great, but it was an easy and an enjoyable read.
CHCH 422
Everyone read this book and most people enjoyed it. However one of the group thought it as too ridiculous. All thought it was a slightly weird story but some people were frustrated with the ending. The group liked the development of relationships and the hidden strengths of some of the characters.
NEWP 012
Loved it, quirky, funny and unexpected.
TAUR 049
Delightfully outrageous, zany and funny - sometimes in a dark way. On the surface it appears to be a light read, but the characters are so beautifully drawn that there is a depth to the content that illustrates so well our "humanness'.
Lightweight and over-the-top, but an entertaining easy read.
CHCH 550
Most people enjoyed.
KURO 001
We loved the quirkiness of the characters.
We had a range of responses to the book, from two people disinclined to finish, to others who loved it and found it funny in many places. It was heartwarming to see the friendship between Margery and Edith, and the self discovery and laying to rest hurts from the past. The writing style was particularly enjoyed and some have picked up other Rachel Joyce books because of that. A great selection.
WARK 003
We all enjoyed it, for once! We thought the evolving relationship between the characters was very neatly done, and convincing, and we all like novels that introduce us to places (Noumea)) and topics (beetles) about which we know little or nothing. A painless way to extend the horizons of our knowledge and experience.
CHCH 244
We all absolutely loved this book. So many laugh out loud moments, and at the same time there were sobering and tragic moments.
A lovely light read. Many had read her other titles as well.
Storyline unbelievable but readable. Gave us an appreciation of people who are 'different'. Generated an interesting discussion on the treatment of returned servicemen in Australia and N.Z. over the last century.
We all enjoyed this story - strong female characters, how an unlikely pairing can result in amazing self-discovery and the incredibly harsh conditions of that post-war era. There was a touch of humour, some sadness and some unbelievable events, all combining to create an unforgettable storyline. The inspiration for the story was an interesting read, and many of the group are planning to read further novels by this author. Many ideas were shared surrounding intrepid journeys during our group discussion, as well as actors we would choose to play these characters if it were turned into a movie.
A quirky, delightful book which everyone in our group read and loved. Intriguing characters, unexpected twists, and fascinating development of a relationship.
AUCK 385
Everyone loved this gentle beautifully written book, with an array of strong women characters which were thoughtfully and honestly written. The touches of humour made the heart wrenching moments easier to swallow. A great balance and well worth a read.
AUCK 353
4 people liked/loved it. Other 4 negative. "First BDS book I just couldn't get into... humour was at odds with characters...historical inaccuracies in early chapters put me off easy but unfulfilling read...wondered why the author bothered writing it".
TAUR 036
What a lovely book which we all enjoyed. Fabulous characters and an interesting storyline.
NAP 020
Enjoyed by all. Well-written of a friendship that evolved between two totally different women.
An enjoyable book with twists and turns. Really well-written!
WINT 001
Apart from one member we all enjoyed this book peopled with eccentric characters. There were some laugh out loud moments and the story illustrated that very Victorian and Edwardian desire to find out about the vagaries of the animal and plants, bringing them back to England and displayed in cabinets. The discussions covered grief, the role of women, the effects of both World Wars as well as the Colonial outposts.
AUCK 210
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!
CHCH 125
A delightful book. Made us want to head back to our museum, and pull out the insect drawers which fascinated us as children.
AUCK 157
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.
AUCK 443
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...
TAUR 023
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.
CAMB 002
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!
NELS 014
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.
FOXT 002
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.
AUCK 038
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!