Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce

Margery Benson is introduced in this story as a ten year old girl, sitting in her father’s study and enjoying his company as he shares the book Incredible  Creatures. She is quite taken with the sketches of animals and in particular a Golden Beetle from New Caledonia.

Suddenly this pleasant moment is shattered when her father receives a visitor telling him all four of his sons have been killed in the war.  His grief and shock is so great that he immeditely goes outside and kills himself. This life shattering event forces Margery and her mother to leave their home and live with relatives.

We quickly jump to 1950 in London, Margery is an unmarried disheveled school teacher getting zero respect or joy in her job. After a particularly horrible day at school she sinks into depression and suddenly remembers a bright spot in her life; her former obsession with the golden beetle in New  Caledonia.

Margery decides to upend her sorry, boring life and take an adventure to look for the golden beetle. Some of that inspiration may come from wanting to connect to her much missed father, in my opinion.  She knows nothing about New Caledonia and advertises for an assistant who speaks French so she will have an interpreter.  After interviewing several people she ends up with an unlikely companion, Miss Enid Pretty.  This beuatiful blonde tells her, after they are well underway toward New Caledonia, that she does not in fact speak French.  She only knows “Bon Shoor” and off they go. Margery and Enid set off unprepared for an adventure of their lifetime.

These women couldn’t be more different in looks and personality but a true friendship develops as they move through the jungle, end up in crazy predicaments and their lives intertwine. I very much liked the end but the middle of the book dragged a bit, just for a while.

Much thanks to NetGalley for the advanced copy of this book. This book will be published November 24, 2020. Opinions are mine and I was not compensated for this review.

Sharing with Joy for British Isles Friday

brifri  netgalley