• Miss Benson's Beetle

  • A Novel
  • By: Rachel Joyce
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 12 hrs and 4 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (2,478 ratings)

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Miss Benson's Beetle

By: Rachel Joyce
Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
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Publisher's Summary

National best seller

“A beautifully written, extraordinary quest in which two ordinary, overlooked women embark on an unlikely scientific expedition to the South Seas.” (Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand)

From the best-selling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry comes an uplifting, irresistible novel about two women on a life-changing adventure where they must risk everything, break all the rules, and discover their best selves - together.

She’s going too far to go it alone.

It is 1950. London is still reeling from World War II, and Margery Benson, a schoolteacher and spinster, is trying to get through life, surviving on scraps. One day, she reaches her breaking point, abandoning her job and small existence to set out on an expedition to the other side of the world in search of her childhood obsession: an insect that may or may not exist - the golden beetle of New Caledonia. When she advertises for an assistant to accompany her, the woman she ends up with is the last person she had in mind. Fun-loving Enid Pretty in her tight-fitting pink suit and pom-pom sandals seems to attract trouble wherever she goes. But together, these two British women find themselves drawn into a cross-ocean adventure that exceeds all expectations and delivers something neither of them expected to find: the transformative power of friendship. 

Praise for Miss Benson's Beetle:

“A hilarious jaunt into the wilderness of women’s friendship and the triumph of outrageous dreams.” (Kirkus Reviews)

©2020 Rachel Joyce (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“[Miss Benson’s Beetle] feels larger than Joyce’s other books—more expansive, swashbuckling, a wild adventure. It is the best so far of her novels, and the most inspiring. . . . At the heart of the story is the slow, unlikely friendship that builds between the two women and how that friendship enables them both to grow stronger, more capable and more self-reliant. . . . There is resilience, there is redemption, and there is beauty—great beauty.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“I fell in love with the unlikely friendship between two wildly different women—their devotion to each other as they trek up and down mountains in someplace called New Caledonia is a hysterical delight. This novel made me realize how hungry I am for stories about women loving each other into being their best selves.”—Ann Napolitano, author of Dear Edward

Miss Benson’s Beetle is a pure joyride. Sweet, witty, poignant, filled with intrigue and unlikely friendship, it’s a perfect escape. I loved it.”—Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours and The Book of Lost Friends  

What listeners say about Miss Benson's Beetle

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A well-written panorama of human tragedy

The listing quoted a Kirkus review describing this book as an “hilarious” adventure of two women. The book is rarely amusing and is generally a tale of human suffering. One wonders if the reviewer failed to read the book or if the premise of the review is that women’s denigration by our culture, suffering and abuse is “hilarious.” The book is well written, inventive, violent and poignant. It displays the courage of women in the face of dead dreams and personal tragedy. My rating is based on my dashed expectations, not the writer’s work. If you’re looking for hilarious, this is not the book.

48 people found this helpful

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Delightful and totally engaging

What a lovely book. I was entranced from beginning to end. There were the occasional moments where I thought:"I am *so* worried about what might happen to these people I love!" While that was true, never did I consider leaving them.

I found the book when looking for something else narrated by Juliet Stevenson. I had just finished "Once Upon a River" and could not imagine another voice I wanted to hear at that moment. Fortunately, Ms Stevenson is such and excellent narrator that every performance is unique to the particular book.

There is no way of knowing which book will grab which reader, I encourage you to give this a try.

26 people found this helpful

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Beautiful!

A wonderful story of friendship, commitment, adventure, bravery and love! I felt as though I knew the two leading characters personally and I was sad to see the story end, I will miss them!

13 people found this helpful

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Not as uplifting as Joyce’s other books

I’ve listened to now three of Rachel Joyce’s audio books and have throughly loved them and recommend them to others. However, I was deeply disappointed by Miss Benson’s Beetle. The narration was good, but the story was not only tedious, but unbearably sad.

12 people found this helpful

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Loved This

Rachel Joyce has a way of making her characters unique but also relatable. This novel was a wonky bit of adventure but also a story of perseverance, love, acceptance and family; with a small bit of sorrow and denial and a healthy dose of girl power thrown in. I loved Miss Benson's passion for beetles, I would have liked to hear more about them. The audiobook has the added charm of Juliet Stevenson's narration, which was thoroughly enjoyable. There wasn't anything I didn't like. Excellent pandemic read/listen.

8 people found this helpful

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Miss Benson’s Beetle

A charming story, not overly complicated or astonishing, simply an enjoyable read of female friendship. Juliet Stevenson is one of the best narrators on this planet, in my humble opinion. I enjoy everything she reads.

6 people found this helpful

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Great book

Rachel Joyce does it again. With Juliet Stevenson narrating, the author gives the reader two odd travelers, one prepared, one not at all, going to the obscure island of New Caledonia searching for a golden beetle. The two women, as unalike as two people can be, hit snags at every turn. There is humor, at least at the beginning, but the two women endure extreme hardships that test them to their limits. One expects they will grow close, but it is hard to imagine how.

5 people found this helpful

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Humorous, disliked ending

Juliet Stevenson is fantastic!! I loved the characters in this novel, but could’ve done without the darker bits. It feels like such a fun escape that’s somewhat ruined by malice.

4 people found this helpful

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Excellent! A must read!

This story starts off as a little girl is drawn in when zshe and her father are looking at an old book of Incredible creatures and the little girl is fascinated with a golden beetle, the golden beetle of

This story is how that little girl follows her dream and searches for this golden beetle. Does she find it? Please do read this book, it will not disappoint!

The narrator is wonderful, perfect for this story!

4 people found this helpful

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Adventureous

Fun. Great narration. Involved characters.
Caused reflection of my life goals and adventures. Moved rapidly.

3 people found this helpful