Miss Benson’s Beetle has been the ultimate escapism book for me this year. As I write this review, I can’t help but smile at this book and it’s glorious cover, because I know it helped me to smile during a difficult time.
This is the story of Margery Benson, a lady that has finally decided to pursue her lifetime dream of finding the golden beetle of New Caledonia. The odds are against her, with no official funding or a qualified assistant, but it’s now or never. This is a trip she’s been dreaming of since she was young, but dreaming and reality are two different things and this hits Margery hard when she’s on the boat to Australia riddled with sea sickness; luckily she’s got Enid.
Enid is her glamorous assistant who has no experience of collecting insects but is thoroughly enjoying the adventure. Her joyful and charming personality has everyone on-board in love with her, and even Margery begins to appreciate what Enid brings on this expedition. But behind Enid’s light-hearted persona, she’s bottling up a LOT of secrets.
The expedition is an eye opener for both women as they begin to open up on their pasts, which each had compartmentalised to different degrees. It was both heartbreaking and heart warming to read what Enid and Margery had gone through, and whilst they were the least likely pair, I don’t think they could have healed or learned from each other in quite the same way if it was a different set of characters.
The resilience and strength of these two women is one of the standout reasons for this book having such a positive effect on me, you couldn’t not be touched and cheered up by it.
Set in the 1950s, I can’t tell you how much this era added to the jolliness of it all; I really felt like I was swept back in time and standing next to Margery at the tea party put on by the British Consul.
What an incredible story is all I can say… a true comfort read that captivates you throughout and leaves you with a lasting impression of what a truly special book Miss Benson’s Beetle is.
Miss Benson’s Beetle is out now in hardback and eBook versions from Doubleday.
Until next time, Chloé x