>> A man and a woman, both of them lonely, meet and fall in love. Both of them crave companionship and family; both are intelligent and good-humored. As Benny and Desirée (a.k.a. Shrimp) are about to discover, all that can stand between them and happiness is —everything.
Benny is a dairy farmer struggling to keep his late parents’ farm alive in a modern world. Desirée is a small-town librarian who has retreated even further into her shell after the death of her young husband. They live in Sweden, perhaps the only country in the world where a love story could begin in a cemetery: it is there, visiting their loved ones’ graves, that they first spot each other.
Their differences are obvious immediately—she’s appalled by the tacky decorations he so carefully arranges around his mother’s grave and he’s turned off by her peaked bookworm looks—but lust and longing drive them into each other’s arms. Just when it looks like love could conquer all, reality rears its ugly head with a vengeance. How can Desirée (who Benny promptly nicknames “Shrimp”), with her love of high culture, independence, and postmodern theory, be happy in a creaking old farmhouse that’s stuck in the 1950s? And how can a man like Benny, who sings to his cows on Christmas Eve and longs for a buxom woman to come along and help run the farm, reconcile himself to store-bought meatballs and evenings at the opera?
In Benny and Shrimp, Katarina Mazetti allows her two characters to speak for themselves in alternating chapters, giving readers an intimate look inside the minds of two people as they struggle to bridge the gap between their separate worlds for the sake of true love. The farmer and the librarian could be two figures in a pastoral fable, but here they spring to life in all its sexy, infuriating, confounding messiness. Will modern-day practicality keep them apart, or will the unlikely couple live the fairy tale ending? Either way, their path is a universal one of love, heartbreak, and hope.