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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun and quick read that is much more than a simple story of romance.
This is a fun and quick read that is so much more than a simple story of romance. The author's writing style is engaging and successfully presents the wildly different perspectives of the book's two main characters, people who are at times wacky, at times endearing and at other times absolutely infuriating. The author brings Benny and Shrimp to life, making the reader...
Published on August 19, 2009 by Book Lover

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A different kind of romance novel
I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the book. I found it nice and light at the beginning (I found myself smiling many times throughout - a sweet smile, not a funny smile.), but it got steadily deeper and rather darker. It's a very unusual romance, if you can even call it that. The characters were likable overall. This is a translation as well, and it really rather read...
Published on August 16, 2009 by Beth


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A different kind of romance novel, August 16, 2009
By 
Beth (United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Benny & Shrimp: A Novel (Paperback)
I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the book. I found it nice and light at the beginning (I found myself smiling many times throughout - a sweet smile, not a funny smile.), but it got steadily deeper and rather darker. It's a very unusual romance, if you can even call it that. The characters were likable overall. This is a translation as well, and it really rather read like one, but not in a bad way.

I also have seriously never read the word "ovaries" so many times in one book outside of a biology text!! There were jumping ovaries and yearning ovaries and such. They were very energetic ovaries and they seemed to be prominently featured in every chapter.

This was an interesting, and very real, story but it left me vaguely unsatisfied - like when you can't quite get the price sticker goo off of a picture frame's glass. It was certainly worth reading, and was really quite a quick read. It's the perfect read if you're looking for something a bit more on the intellectual, reality based romance side.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun and quick read that is much more than a simple story of romance., August 19, 2009
This review is from: Benny & Shrimp: A Novel (Paperback)
This is a fun and quick read that is so much more than a simple story of romance. The author's writing style is engaging and successfully presents the wildly different perspectives of the book's two main characters, people who are at times wacky, at times endearing and at other times absolutely infuriating. The author brings Benny and Shrimp to life, making the reader really care about finding out what will happen to them and their relationship.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My new favorite book of 2009, October 11, 2009
By 
Monie Garcia (Arlington, Texas USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Benny & Shrimp: A Novel (Paperback)
What do you get when a country dairy farmer and a city librarian meet on a bench in the middle of a cemetery? You get the adorable story, Benny & Shrimp.

Working alone fifteen hours out of each day Benny scarcely has time to handle the farm's dwindling finances much less clean house or change the sheets. Now that he's lost his mother he needs someone domestic to take care of him and he has fears that his "smarmy Benny" act is never going to land him the right woman. When he accidentally shares a smile with Desiree (who he later nicknames Shrimp) he's jolted by her and can't get her pale beige looks out of his head.

As a librarian Desiree lives for order and organization. Initially she thought she found the perfect spouse in Orjan but when he dies in a bike accident she comes to the realization that the spark in their short marriage was already dying out. The last person she would have thought to be her true soul mate would be the humble dairy farmer wearing a grungy "Forest Owners' Alliance" hat but her heart had other ideas.

After that first shocking jolt they tried to avoid each other but when Benny finally has the courage to seek Desiree out, magic happens. Can people from such different lives make it work?

Benny & Shrimp is my new favorite book of 2009. It is an amazing story of love and compromise. I instantly fell in love with Benny and although Desiree seemed a little to hard-headed for me at first she also became a cherished character for me.

This is one of those books where I found myself wanting to slap the characters silly and tell them exactly how I think they should act. This fact alone makes it a great book because it shows how much the story drew me in.

The story is narrated by both Benny and Desiree and it added so much more to the narrative because I was able to more clearly understand both sides and the feelings involved. As I was reading Benny's words I was totally on his side but then I read what Desiree was thinking and I'd switch to her side.

I highly encourage you to pick up your own copy of this book and fall in love with their story and surprise ending just like I did.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable look at the attraction of opposites, October 28, 2009
This review is from: Benny & Shrimp: A Novel (Paperback)
I greatly enjoyed this quirky tale of love between people with such different perspectives on life. One of the things that really made this book work for me was that the chapters alternated between being told by Benny and being told by Shrimp. This really lets the reader get the entire story instead of just one person's side. The chapters were also quite short which made Benny & Shrimp a fast read for me.

Although the characters' emotions run high, I did not feel them the way I have felt the level of emotion in other books. I felt more like an outside observer, rather than becoming overly engaged in the story. I think the observing really is the point though as the book examines one relationship in quite a detailed manner. The author has taken the story farther in a second book but I do not think that one has an English translation yet.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars delightfully quirky story of differences in love, October 25, 2009
This review is from: Benny & Shrimp: A Novel (Paperback)
Benny & Shrimp is a delightfully quirky Swedish love story. Benny and Shrimp are both teetering toward middle age and meet at a cemetery. Shrimp is a recent widow, and her husband's grave is next to Benny's mother's grave. Their story questions and answers and questions and answers whether opposites attract, repel or both. Shrimp is a librarian, which I always enjoy! Benny is a farmer. They have different worlds, different interests and different temperaments, yet they are inexplicably drawn to one another.

There are some books that grab me as a reader right away, and there are some books I teeter along with, not really forming an opinion. This book was one of the latter, but about half-way through, I was hooked. Mazetti has a gift for complexity masked as simplicity. At the beginning of the novel, Benny and Shrimp were just ordinary people leading their ordinary lives, and not much seemed to happen. The book turns into a fascinating look at the human spirit, the ways we communicate, and how different or similar we really are. I can't recall reading any other Swedish literature, but I mostly forgot this book was set (and originally written in) Swedish. Geography was not a character in this book, but there were definitely some cultural insights. At the end of the day, I really enjoyed this book. Oddly, despite being the title and main characters, neither Benny nor Shrimp was my favorite part of this novel. Instead, I found myself drawn into the side story of Inez, one of Shrimp's co-workers. I would love to see this book turned into a movie. Despite geography not being a strong aspect of the story for me, it was an incredibly visual book, and incredibly dialogue heavy. I sincerely hope Katarina Mazetti writers another novel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In a nutshell, September 19, 2009
By 
This review is from: Benny & Shrimp: A Novel (Paperback)
Some books you fall in love with at the very beginning, from page one I was in amore with this little novel. It begins with Desiree sitting on the bench in front of her husbands grave. She is trying to feel bad enough about his death. Desiree is a librarian who lives in the city. Her apartment is in the minimalist in fashion and she dresses mainly in beige. While at the cemetery, she sees a farmer who is constantly planting things at the gaudy, over the top plot next to her late husband.

That farmer is Benny. He has just lost his mother, the one person who held his house hold together. Benny milks his 24 cows twice a day and her tends to all the farms needs, after that he has little time for cleaning, cooking or worrying how warm it is in the house. Benny hasn't done anything to the house since his mother died, so it is full of her cross stitch and fake plants with a thick layer of dust to hold it all together.

Sitting next to each other on that bench they see each other smile, and the sparks fly. Benny and Desiree (who he aptly names Shrimp) begin a whirl wind romance like none you have ever experienced. This novel was originally written in Swedish and now we have the tremendous opportunity to read this hilarious book by this inspiring author. If there was anything lost in the translation you would never know it. This novel is intelligent, hilarious, romantic, happy and melancholy all at one time. I would not be surprised to see this one on all the BEST SELLERS list very soon.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky and Fun Read, July 28, 2009
This review is from: Benny & Shrimp: A Novel (Paperback)
Benny & Shrimp is the story of two thirty-something misfits. Benny is a Swedish cow milk farmer who has never married. Desiree, A.K.A. Shrimp is a thirty-something, plain Jane librarian who dresses in beige and lives an organized life in her sterile apartment. She is a widow of two years.

Benny and Shrimp meet in the cemetery where they go each day to visit their dearly departed --Benny his parents, and Shrimp, her late husband, Orjan. When they first notice each other, their private thoughts about each other are less than flattering.

(Benny)....."And then she's there. Faded, like some old color photo that's been on display for years. Dried-out blond hair, a pale face, white eyebrows and lashes, wishy-washy pastel clothes, always something vaguely blue or beige".

(Benny)...."Suppose I've spent too long with just cows for company.....At the cemetery gates I ran into the beige woman. I thought she'd be looking at me warily, afraid smarmy Benny might fire off his lunatic smile at her again, so I knitted my brow and gave her a curt nod as I passed her".

(Shrimp)...." It was a clear, cold autumn day and I took my usual walk to the grave on my lunch break. The Forest Owner was sitting there on the bench; he glowered at me, as if I were trespassing in his own private cemetery. His paws were all soily; he'd probably just got the day's gardening stint out of the way. Wonder why he's only got three fingers".

A quirky, but down-to-earth story that will make you smile and laugh, and perhaps even renew your belief in the fact that, if your eyes and heart are open, there is someone out there for most everyone.

A satisfying read with a ending that left me wondering if a sequel, might not be in the works. Give Benny & Shrimp a try. I think you will be pleased you did.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Benny & Shrimp, October 20, 2009
This review is from: Benny & Shrimp: A Novel (Paperback)
When Benny & Shrimp first encounter each other they have both recently lost a loved one. They are lost and longing for companionship. Total opposites from one another and set in their ways. But is it possible for them to make things work....

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Benny & Shrimp is a charming read, a lovely romance. While both Benny and Shrimp are stubborn and are not really good with change, they are honest and lovable characters. I fell in love with them from the start. Once you start reading this book, you won't want to put it down. My only complaint would be the ending, while I thought the end was good, I was hoping for a bit more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Opposites attracting or lonely opposites needing love?, October 7, 2009
This review is from: Benny & Shrimp: A Novel (Paperback)
This book begs the question, do opposites attract and if so, can it work? That seems to be the theme of this book. Or is it, do two lonely people who are completely opposite fall for each other just out of need?

Frankly, I loved this book. It was a fast read, passionate and left me wondering about Benny and Shrimp's relationship. I wasn't sure what I wanted from them. I wanted Benny to find a wife. I wanted Shrimp to be that wife. However, at the same, I didn't want Shrimp to be that wife. Contradictory, huh? On the other hand, I wanted Benny, the lovable farmer, to enjoy the culture that Shrimp wants to share but at the same time I wanted Shrimp to adapt to farm life. Sigh. Tis love, I guess.

Sometimes books that were popular in their native language, doesn't translate well into English but that doesn't seem to be an issue here. From Swedish to English, the point, the prose and the love came across. Give this a chance, I am disappointed I didn't sooner. This is definitely one I will read again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two people - two views, September 28, 2009
This review is from: Benny & Shrimp: A Novel (Paperback)
Benny & Shrimp opens with Desireé (Shrimp) sitting on a bench in a cemetery. She is a young widow, who was married to a seemingly perfect man - Orjan. They had settled into a comfortable but passionless marriage when he suddenly died. But, she comes several times a week, sitting for an hour at a time. "Presumably in the hope of getting down to the right sort of grieving if I stick at it long enough."

Benny, an unmarried dairy farmer, who desperately needs and wants a wife to take care of him and his house, is also at the cemetery regularly. He attends the grave of his parents with great zeal, always gardening and cleaning. "Going to the grave is my only breathing space."

His parent's stone is beside Orjan's. Benny sits on the bench beside Shrimp. They are unaccountably annoyed with each other for being there. Until the day they smile at each other...

What follows is a telling of a burgeoning relationship from two viewpoints - his and hers, told in alternating chapters. Mazetti has done a phenomenal job of taking the same event or incident and completely changing it based on each character's outlooks, beliefs, dreams and hopes.

That initial smile? Each assumes the other was smiling for the same reason - they weren't. The two are polar opposites, with altogether different interests. What draws them together is passion, loneliness and ticking biological clocks.

Can these two thoroughly disparate souls find happiness together?

I found the two narratives of the same story utterly fascinating and couldn't wait to see what the other thought of the same incident. Neither character is willing to give in or back down and there's the story. What are you willing to sacrifice for happiness? How much would you give up?

Katarina Mazetti has created characters that evoke strong emotions. I changed my feeling for the characters many times over the course of the book. She presents both male and female viewpoints with equal skill and insight. I must admit though - I ended up liking Benny much more than Shrimp. Have you read it yet? What were your thoughts at the end?

There is a great set of questions included as a Reader's Guide with the book. I think it would make an interesting selection for a book club.
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Benny & Shrimp: A Novel
Benny & Shrimp: A Novel by Katarina Mazetti (Paperback - July 28, 2009)
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