Miss Benson's Beetle
Miss Benson's Beetle by Rachel Joyce (Doubleday Books, 2020)

Historical Fiction

Rachel Joyce (best known for The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry) has excelled herself with this latest novel. Miss Benson, a middle-aged unsuccessful teacher (who has never recovered from a childhood tragedy which opens the book) decides to uproot herself and fulfil a childhood dream to travel to New Caledonia in the 1950s to discover a rare golden beetle. She is accompanied by her polar opposite, Emily Pretty, who has her own reasons for needing to run away from Britain, and they are followed by a man deeply traumatised by his experiences as a Japanese POW on the Burma railway. This is a novel about real and psychological journeys; about trauma and the hope of redemption; about the gaining of wisdom and the loss of innocence. Terrific. (also on our Book of the Year shortlist)

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