Monday, February 1, 2021


When teacher Margery Benson intercepts a particularly cruel drawing of herself circulating among her students, something inside her snaps.  The Miss Benson of Miss Benson's Beetle suddenly decides to give up her unrewarding career in education in order to fulfil a lifelong dream:  traveling to New Caledonia to discover proof of the golden beetle that has so far evaded capture.  As a 40-something spinster in post-WWII London, she knows she will need an assistant to help her on the expedition to the other side of the world.  She advertises the position and is somewhat dismayed to only receive three applicants: a someone peculiar former POW named Mundic, a flighty young woman named Miss Pretty, and (luckily) a perfectly competent woman named Miss Hamilton who is herself a retired teacher.  Just as everything is being arranged for the trip, Miss Hamilton drops out and Margery is forced to go with her second (and really only) choice, Enid Pretty.

Enid seems entirely unsuited to trekking in mountainous terrain in search of the elusive beetle.  She has died blonde hair, high heels, a tiger-print bikini, and does not stop talking except for brief periods when she is asleep.  Additionally, she brought along a great deal of luggage, including a red case that she never lets out of her sight.

On the ship during the first part of their voyage, it soon becomes apparent that the person who didn't get the assistant job is not going to take being passed over lightly.  Mundic stows away on the ship and keeps track of Margery's movements in a notebook.  At times he becomes confused as to where he is and if he's still being held prisoner, but for the most part his stalking of Margery remains his focus.

Once they make it to New Caledonia, Margery discovers that the majority of her beetle collecting and observation equipment has failed to arrive.  With limited supplies, she and Enid must rely on unorthodox methods to try to find the beetle before their allotted two months of searching is up.  Through rough terrain, dangerous weather and assorted disasters, Margery and Enid form an unlikely bond where secrets are revealed and a deep friendship takes hold.

I really enjoyed the story of Margery's unlikely search for the beetle that she'd only heard vague references to throughout her life.  The unusual cast of characters constantly threw up surprises and showed an unusual amount of resilience.  A mystery involving Enid also makes the story quite thrilling as we root for her while also fearing what she has in her red case!

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Miss Benson's Beetle from NetGalley in exchange for this review


About Me

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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