The winner was yesterday revealed by the Wilbur & Niso Smith Foundation, organisers of the annual prize. Miss Benson’s Beetle was selected by judges from the six shortlisted titles from across the globe.
Niso Smith, founder, said: "The novels competing this year have been a beacon in challenging times, all of them portraying human strength. Miss Benson’s Beetle is a joyously humourous and deeply moving novel, which serves as a vital reminder that it’s always possible to make your life what you want it to be. Rachel’s yarn is truly magical and a life-affirming adventure. Congratulations!"
Described as the perfect escape novel for our troubled times, this is another beautiful book from the bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.
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.
The annual Prize has three distinct categories 'designed to find, support and celebrate the best aspiring and established adventure writers today. It is open to writers of any nationality, writing in English. Across the categories, the Prize received almost 900 submissions from more than 40 countries worldwide.