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Benny & Shrimp by Katarina MazettiTitle: Benny & Shrimp

Author: Katarina Mazetti

No. of Pages: 224

First Released: July 2009

Synopsis (Courtesy of FSB Associates):Two middle-aged misfits and a love that should not be as complicated as it seems. It started in a cemetery, where they begrudgingly share a bench. “Shrimp,” the childless young widow and librarian with a sharp intellect and a home so tidy that her jam jars are in alphabetical order, meets Benny, the gentle, overworked milk farmer who fears becoming the village’s Old Bachelor. Both driven by an enormous longing and loudly ticking biological clocks, they can’t escape the powerful attraction between them. But how will she learn to accept that he falls asleep at the opera and has a house full of his mother’s cross-stitch? And how could he ever feel at home in her minimalist apartment, bare as a dentist’s waiting room?”

Comments and Critiques: Described as seriously addictive, I found myself completely charmed by Benny and Shrimp, a.k.a. Desiree, and can attest to its addictive nature. Each character was thoroughly enjoyable because of their quirks. As a fellow bibliophile and intellectual, I found myself drawn to Shrimp because of her tidiness and need for culture. But Benny, who is still struggling with life after the death of his mother, is someone with whom the reader automatically sympathizes. The longing and attraction between the two makes you really hope that they can work through their issues and successfully stay together in the end.

The fact that the book takes place in Sweden added to its charm. Life as a dairy farmer in Sweden, even though the book is set in modern times, still feels antiquated and nostalgic. The traditions and cultural differences do not detract from the overall story but rather enhance it. In fact, I found it interesting to see how different our culture is from that in Sweden.

However, as a thirty-three year-old woman, I do object to the term “middle aged” to describe the two characters. Shrimp is only thirty-five, and Benny turns thirty-seven. To me, this is not middle-aged. Call it denial, but it just seems too young to use that term.

In spite of the details of life in modern-day Sweden that I enjoyed (and the objectionable term “middle-aged” to describe the two characters), at its heart this book is about love – what is it, what it means to be in love, the sacrifices necessary to make it work, and so forth. I would highly recommend this book for anyone looking for an enchanting and quick read. Poignant, tumultuous, and charming – Benny & Shrimp take hold of the reader’s heart and tug and tear at it, just as love tugs and tears at their own hearts, as they struggle to adjust their two very different lives to this thing called love.

Thank you to Caitlin Price of FSB Associates for the opportunity to read this ARC!

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