From the bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry comes an uplifting, irresistible novel about two very different 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 schoolmarm 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 pompom sandals seems to attract trouble wherever she goes. But together these two British ladies 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.
“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
“A beautifully written, extraordinary quest in which two ordinary, overlooked women embark on an unlikely scientific expedition to the South Seas. A classic tale of gripping adventure and friendship, told from the subversive and often hilarious female view.”—Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

“Whatever you may look for in a novel—adventure, fully realized characters, humor, poignancy, a chance to learn something new—is all here in Miss Benson’s Beetle. What’s also here is the particular grace and humanity that Rachel Joyce brings to her work. She reminds us that we all are broken in one way or another, but that we are capable—oftentimes in unexpected ways—of helping to make ourselves and others whole. This beautifully written novel is an absolute delight.”—Elizabeth Berg, author of The Story of Arthur Truluv

“As ever, Rachel Joyce made me laugh out loud, then weep for the battered majesty of ordinary human beings. Two unlikely heroines, their strange love, a pitiful villain, and a life-affirming search for miraculous beauty . . . all combine in a wild, hopeful picaresque journey into the soul.”—Bel Mooney, Daily Mail

“Bursting with the irrepressible wonder that is quintessential Rachel Joyce . . . Miss Benson’s Beetle is about the courage to say YES! Yes, I will. Yes, I can . . . radiant, transporting, idiosyncratic, tender, and shimmeringly alive . . . the master of charm and delight.”—Keggie Carew, author of Dadland 

“Rachel Joyce is a masterful storyteller, and has written the perfect book for these times. Funny, perceptive, and life-enhancing—I urge you to read it.”—Sarah Winman, author of When God Was a Rabbit

“I will not forget the wonderful characters in this book in a hurry. I read it as fast as I could because I was desperate to find out what happened to the characters. It is brilliant! Reading this book made me feel like I was inside an incredibly enjoyable film, and it will take you on the adventure of a lifetime. I loved every second.”—Favel Parrett, author of Past the Shallows 

“Enthralling, amazing . . . Any reader accompanying Rachel Joyce on this exhilarating expedition into the far reaches of the imagination is destined to be rewarded with the richest pleasure.”—David Park, author of The Light of Amsterdam