Miss Benson’s Beetle, by Rachel Joyce

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read from a favourite author. In my ranking of Rachel Joyce books, Miss Benson’s Beetle has to go just below Harold Fry and Queenie Hennessey, her two most amazing creations, but above her other books, for once again introducing me to a character past mid-life who has decided it’s time to make her very ordinary life count for something.

Miss Benson, an aging spinster teacher in post-WW2 England, comes up with a plan as outrageous as Harold Fry’s walk the length of England — she plans to travel to the South Pacific in search of a rare beetle she has been fascinated with her whole life. While life didn’t allow her to become the naturalist she dreamed of being, she spontaneously decides she an still be the person to discover the beetle that has been described but never captured, and sets off with an unlikely travelling companion to fulfill that lifelong dream. It’s the kind of journey that you know is going to be life-changing for the character and heart-breaking for the reader — and I enjoyed every step of the way.

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