Benny and Shrimp

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The bestselling "offbeat, down-to- earth love story"(The Observer, London)- now available in the United States

An international sensation, this addictively readable tale asks the question: Why is it so impossible to get a relationship between two middle-aged misfits to work? The answer lies in the story of Shrimp, a young widowed librarian with a sharp intellect and a home so tidy that her jam jars are in alphabetical order; Benny, a gentle, overworked milk farmer who fears ...

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Overview

The bestselling "offbeat, down-to- earth love story"(The Observer, London)- now available in the United States

An international sensation, this addictively readable tale asks the question: Why is it so impossible to get a relationship between two middle-aged misfits to work? The answer lies in the story of Shrimp, a young widowed librarian with a sharp intellect and a home so tidy that her jam jars are in alphabetical order; Benny, a gentle, overworked milk farmer who fears becoming the village's Old Bachelor; and an unlikely love that should not be as complicated as it seems. Reminiscent of the works of Carol Shields, this quirky, humorous, beautifully told novel breathes new life into the age-old conundrum that is love.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Mazetti's debut, a bestseller in her native Sweden, centers on two lonely, 30-something singles living in rural Sweden as they attempt to overcome the inner obstacles keeping them apart. The dialogue-heavy story is told in breezy, alternating first-person accounts that paint a vivid portrait of life in northern Sweden. Desiree, better known as Shrimp, is a quiet librarian with an intellectual streak dealing with the recent death of her husband. Benny is a dairy farmer too busy tending the family farmland to realize his loneliness. The two have a serendipitous first encounter at the graveyard and find an instant, irresistible connection between them. Early chapters are charged with their passionate, intense affair, but the story fizzles as the two loners clash over their stubborn idiosyncrasies. Though the writing is charming and at times poetic, the plot becomes tedious and the characters predictable. Short though slow, the novel should hold appeal for fans of quirky women's fiction and Swedish novels like Astrid and Veronika. (Aug.)
Kirkus Reviews
Boy meets girl among the headstones in Mazetti's quirky debut. Benny is tending his mother's monstrously ornate grave in a Swedish cemetery; Desiree is sitting beside her husband's tastefully understated slab. Thus begins a hopelessly incompatible relationship between a dairy farmer who favors women in lipstick and high heels, and a pale (hence the nickname Shrimp) devotee of opera and aromatherapy. An element of wry social observation underpins the unlikely romance: She's a broody librarian who never really got to know her bird-watching, vegetarian husband; he's a traditionalist member of a dying breed of overworked small landowners. Sexual attraction gets the couple off to an enthusiastic start, but gulfs of taste and expectation open up almost immediately. She finds the cows boring and his neglected farmhouse disgusting; he hates her preference for beige and indifference to domesticity. But both are lonely and afraid that no one would notice if they didn't exist. Narrated in alternating voices, the story becomes a sequence of rows and reconciliations. The sex remains great, but physical satisfaction cannot overcome the culture gulf or the pair's resistance to changing their lifestyles to accommodate the other. Separation follows, until Mazetti undermines the novel's pleasing anti-romanticism by introducing a Band-Aid solution. An offbeat, bittersweet, moderately engaging little fable.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781410417091
  • Publisher: Cengage Gale
  • Publication date: 11/18/2009
  • Edition description: Large Print Edition
  • Pages: 294
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Katarina Mazetti was nominated for the Prix Cevennes in France in 2007, and has worked as a journalist, teacher, and author of books for readers of all ages. For twenty years she lived on a small farm in northern Sweden, an experience that became the basis for Benny and Shrimp, her first adult novel.

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