Monday, September 28, 2009

Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti

This little book offers a quirky attempt at romance between two very unlikely people. Benny is a thirty-something dairy farmer, who, following the death of his mother, realizes what a lonely life he leads on the farm. Desiree, (or "Shrimp" as Benny calls her) is also in her thirties, a cultured and educated librarian, and recently widowed. They first meet at the cemetery - Benny is there tending his parents' garish grave, while Desiree routinely spends her lunch hour at her husband's grave - where both feel intense dislike for the other.

Once they recover from their initial dislike, both realize their physical attraction is mutual and they fall into a passionate affair. Both, however are set in their ways, and neither seems to be willing to give up their compartmentalized little lives in order to make their relationship work. While their physical need for each other grows, their values and interests work to drive them apart. Will the two of them ever be able to let go of their differences and build a life together?

Benny and Shrimp is the debut novel of author Mazetti and was first published in Sweden, where it was a bestseller. The writing is sparse yet lively, written from both of the main characters perspectives. While the story is set in Sweden and gives some lovely details of both rural and urban Swedish life, it could easily describe dating in any of the western cultures. It is a quick read, and the unorthodox ending guarantees the reader will be thinking about Benny and Shrimp long after finishing.

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