If you enjoy a story that is a little corny, quirky and fanciful, try checking out Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce. The story’s setting is 1950’s England and New Caledonia (a French island in the South Pacific). The plot definitely COULD have happened as written, but it is very unlikely – but that is part of the charm of the book.
Margery Benson is a lonely spinster in her late 40’s who decides to travel to New Caledonia in search of a legendary Golden Beetle. She has had several tragedies in her life, dresses ‘like a potato’, has no confidence in herself and has no friends at all. Margery always does what is expected of her and tries to follow all proper rules. Enid Pretty is exactly the opposite. She is in her 20’s, makes ‘acquaintances’ wherever she goes because of her loud, boisterous personality, dyes her hair bleached blond, wears outlandish clothes and is very impulsive – to the point of stealing things quite often. Through a series of misadventures, the two women become friends and make it to New Caledonia to search for the elusive Golden Beetle. Will they find it before their visas expire? Will the police discover their whereabouts in a search for two female criminals? Will they make it off of the island alive?
I loved the wonderfully developed characters of Marge and Enid and I truly wanted them to succeed in their search. There were many many twists and turns in this novel and I liked it, even though it was a little eccentric and quirky. Reading Miss Benson’s Beetle was a great escape from the bad news we hear so often today.