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Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti (final thoughts)

July 22, 2010

From completely different walks of life, librarian Desiree and dairy farmer Benny have one thing in common – they both regularly visit the cemetery. Desiree spends most of her lunch breaks and weekends at her late husband’s grave. His is a plain stone placed next to a greatly ornate marker, which bears the names of Benny’s parents. At first Benny and Desiree are very much annoyed with the other’s presence, but soon that annoyance turns to curiosity and their unlikely relationship begins.

I picked up Benny & Shrimp one Sunday afternoon and less than 36 hours later I turned the final page. For me, that was incredibly speedy. But the story was so quirky and involving, I could not put it down. It was one of those “I’ll just read to the end of this chapter… I mean this next chapter… Okay, maybe just one more…” kind of books.

The story is told by both Desiree and Benny, their points of view alternating in each chapter. When it’s done right, I love multiple points of view, and Mazetti does it right. It was both delightful and frustrating to read Benny and Desiree’s takes on their relationship. Sometimes their chapters flowed together seamlessly, as if finishing each other’s sentences. While others focused on their disharmony – the unspoken words, the misinterpretation of spoken works, and the consequences of both.

What made Benny & Shrimp so great, though, was the writing. There were so many witty phrases and observations, it had me giggling from the get-go. However, those giggles petered out as the book progressed, because while it starts off light and fun, it turns more serious as Desiree and Benny deal with the obstacles clinging to their relationship.

And I’ve got to add – Desiree’s co-worker? Yikes! If I came across someone like that, I don’t think I could let it go as quickly as Desiree seemed to.

Benny & Shrimp was originally published in 1998 in Swedish and the English translation was only released in 2009. Mazetti has written a sequel, Familjegraven, but sadly at the moment it is only available in Swedish. I am eagerly awaiting the English translation, but if it takes too long I may have to learn Swedish because I NEED TO KNOW what happens after the conclusion of Benny & Shrimp.

I don’t know if this book is for everyone, but I would definitely recommend Benny & Shrimp to those who enjoy a good quirky love story.

My rating: 8/10

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 22, 2010 5:49 pm

    I had such a fun time reading this! I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed it. I definitely can’t wait for the sequel to be translated and published in English. The ending left me wanting more.

  2. Sig aka Mom permalink
    July 22, 2010 6:17 pm

    Hmmmm- I may need to add this to my beach reading pile.

  3. July 22, 2010 7:00 pm

    I read this a while ago and also enjoyed it. It’s interesting to read translated love stories, as I find the attitudes and sensibilities of people from other cultures often differ from my own expectations of “romance”. I look forward to reading the new book, when it comes out in English.

  4. July 23, 2010 2:08 am

    “quirky love story” I’ve never heard of this book but your review is very encouraging so I’ll make sure to read this one

  5. July 23, 2010 7:11 am

    i haven’t read many translated books save a few doorstop russian novels in college. i don’t think i make a conscious effort NOT to read translated books, i just never really do it.

    glad you liked this book–i’m all for quirky over here. enjoy the weekend.

  6. July 23, 2010 7:36 am

    Quirky love stories are the best kind! :)

  7. July 25, 2010 6:44 am

    Aww: this sounds so fun! Quirky Scandinavians…what could be better? ;)

  8. stacybuckeye permalink
    August 5, 2010 4:34 pm

    I love quirky and this has been on my wish list for awhile.

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