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Miss Benson's Beetle

Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
Length: 12 hrs and 4 mins
4.9 out of 5 stars (23 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

It is 1950. In a devastating moment of clarity, Margery Benson abandons her dead-end job and advertises for an assistant to accompany her on an expedition. She is going to travel to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist. 

Enid Pretty, in her unlikely pink travel suit, is not the companion Margery had in mind. And yet together they will be drawn into an adventure that will exceed every expectation. They will risk everything, break all the rules and, at the top of a red mountain, discover their best selves.

This is a story that is less about what can be found than the belief it might be found; it is an intoxicating adventure story, but it is also about what it means to be a woman and a tender exploration of a friendship that defies all boundaries.

©2020 Rachel Joyce (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Miss Benson's Beetle

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Joyce's Entomology Excels

Gorgeous tale of two women's search for a rare insect. Stevenson's narration almost steals show.

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Warm Adventure

Such a beautiful friendship and an adventure that you want it to go on forever. Highly recommend

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  • Tracey
  • 24-09-2020

One of those never put down books.

A wonderful story. One of those books you don't want to end. You want to hear more of their adventure the more it develops. Just when you think thats it...another twist happens...and keeps you wanting more. Love the friendship they develop and the discovery that you never too old or too young to go on that adventure. You never know what lies ahead of you don't take that first step.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Debbie S.
  • 26-09-2020

Fabulous

Wonderful book. I loved it right until the penultimate chapter. The ending could have been different for an all round feel good story.

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  • Reina S.B.
  • 15-09-2020

From the very beginning I did not want it to end!

Loved it! Savored it in bits so it wouldn't end! Fell in love with the characters... and with the narrator! Her voice is amazing and the different voices she makes get you even more hooked on the characters and the story. Loved her! I have loved all the Rachel Joyce's audiobooks I have heard and this one too!!! Not only does it keep you wanting to find out what will happen next but it also warms your heart and gives you insights about human nature and people's journey through life with all the things that impact us, shape us, drive us and ultimately give our existence meaning.

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  • V. O'Regan
  • 25-07-2020

Excellent story of female friendship

This was a remarkable story of friendship and exploration. Juliet Stevenson is one of my favourite narrators and was a joy to listen to

9 people found this helpful

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  • Jules
  • 27-07-2020

What a beautiful book!

Beautifully written and perfectly read. It made me laugh out loud and brought tears to my eyes. You must listen to this one.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Seaglass
  • 17-08-2020

Utterly Delightful

I could have carried on listening to this adventure forever. Such an unlikely and comical friendship and a tale that takes you somewhere you’ve barely even noticed on the globe. Juliet Stephenson reads as expertly as ever.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Lesley Perks
  • 28-07-2020

Must listen to!

As usual a wonderful story impeccably read, and a joy from start to finish sigh!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Serena
  • 28-07-2020

Loved it

narration fabulous. Lots of wonderful moments/ insights in the story. I could see it all vividly.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Jennifer Jefferson
  • 14-08-2020

Marvellous

This tale is real escapism. The characters are engaging. I really didn’t want it to end

4 people found this helpful

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  • Rachel Redford
  • 21-08-2020

Finding the way

I've followed Rachel Joyce since her first strangely wonderful book The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and Miss Benson's Beetle is just as wonderful. What arresting opening few paragraphs! Young Margery hears her father take a phone call during WW1 muttering only 'ALL of them? ALL of them?' and then hears the gunshot after he goes in silence into the garden. Her four brothers had all died on the same day at Mons and her mother spends the rest of her life mainly sitting in her chair. (as well she might). Rachel Joyce's characters have experienced impossibly terrible life-crushing grief in their pasts, and have led diminished lives as a consequence. But there ARE second chances in life and extraordinary experiences enable new lives to bud and bloom. Margery is obsessed about finding the golden beetle in New Colorado which he father had told her about and after her mother's death, she sets off with the most unlikely assistant: garrulous Enid with her dyed yellow hair, ridiculous shoes and pink clothes who knows nothing about beetles let alone the other side of the world. Enid's life has been rackety and tough - exactly how tough develops throughout the story, her deep longing for a baby having been thwarted by miscarriages and a sick husband being only one part of it. As the two women embark on this crazy buddy caper, an unlikely bond deeper and stronger than either of them have experienced with any other human being grows between them. There's comedy as well as tenderness and humanity which never dips into sentimentality. The story is jam-packed with adventure, danger, suspense and beauty; the plot constantly growing in complexity as the backgrounds of Margery and Enid are explored. Another theme is Mr Mundic who originally wanted to lead Margery's expedition and who remains an unseen presence until the end. (What an end!) His background working on the Burma railway and the confused trauma in which he lives is astoundingly vivid and empathetic. The last chapter is 30 years later - and Rachel Joyce still has wonderful surprises in this glorious redemptive story. Juliet Stevenson is of course a great narrator with some scenes (you'll know which ones!) so real that you can hardly bear to listen. I found though that she over-did Enid's harsh accent - the cultural differences between the two women didn't need to be made so obvious. But that's just a quibble. One of the best books I've listened to for quite a while.

3 people found this helpful

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  • ChichesterSunshine
  • 14-08-2020

A delight. So well written (& read) loved it

I would recommend this book in a heartbeat. I read and listen to many many books and was looking for something a little different to crime thrillers, historic fiction or chic lit - all ok but I wanted something more. This was perfect. I enjoyed the characters, the pace, the developing story alongside the back stories and it made me smile and chuckle to myself at times too. As an audible book the narrator can break even the best novel - so pleased that Juliet Stevenson did this one, couldn’t have been a better choice. I know they won’t see it but all the same a massive thank you to the author.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Charlie Carter
  • 20-08-2020

Sublime

Absolute jewel of a story of an unlikely female friendship. Exquisitely read by Juliet Stevenson. Beautifully written, observed, characterised. Can’t recommend highly enough.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Megan Gibbs
  • 19-08-2020

Favourite Book of all time

I absolutely loved every single word of this book and listened to it over 3 days. So funny and yet so sad as well . Juliet Stevenson’s narration was first class. I could easily listen to it again and again.

2 people found this helpful