FICTION

Miss Benson’s Beetle

Dial. Nov. 2020. 352p. pap. ISBN 9780812996708. $18; ISBN 9780593230954. $26. F
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In 1914, Margery Benson is introduced to the mythical Golden Beetle of New Caledonia at the age of 10. Her family is almost immediately deeply devastated by World War I, and Margery shelves her dream of finding the beetle until 1950. In her middle age, she realizes that her life is not what she wants it to be, and she wants to prove to the world that the golden insect does in fact exist. She just has to make her way to New Caledonia, an island in the South Pacific, pay for an expedition, and hire an assistant to help her find, mount, and describe the beetle to entomologists back in England. She engages the services of Enid Petty, the least likely assistant to an entomologist to ever be found, a brassy young woman with troubles of her own.
VERDICT Joyce (The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry) has written a delightful book filled with for whom characters readers will root. Margery finds herself again, after being buried by family and work troubles; Enid finds a friend and completes her own dream while in the wilderness of New Caledonia. Sure to be a hit with book clubs.

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