Emily Neuberger's love for the theatre is evident throughout A Tender Thing. Her descriptions of singing a perfect song or being exhausted after a lengthy rehearsal are excellent. But this story succeeds and fails with Eleanor. She is unexperienced but lucky in almost every way--she miraculously lands a leading role in a Broadway musical with no training, men find her intriguing, and this is the first time she sees the difference between the treatment she receives as a white woman and the treatment her costar Charles receives as a black man. This book might be a good pick for readers who love theatre, but I sometimes found it a bit difficult to read as everything consistently works out for Eleanor.
By Emily Neuberger
Miss Benson's Beetle, at its heart, might be a story about finding what gives you joy. Margery has been constrained by society's rules about what a woman should do, despite never finding her place there. Enid has used her looks to make it through life, but living in the jungle with Margery allows her to discover who she wants to be and how she wants to act when her life is not dictated by men. Rachel Joyce writes these two very different women so well, and the story of their growing friendship is compelling. Unfortunately, the book is a bit long and Joyce introduces a third storyline which doesn't add anything to the story. While this is not my favorite Joyce book, I have certainly found a place in my bookish heart for Margery and Enid and their adventures.Miss Benson's Beetle
By Rachel Joyce
Dial Press November 2020