Benny and Desiree find themselves occupying the same cemetery bench during their weekly visits to commune with their dead. They do not like each other to start, eyeing the graves of each others' family with distaste. Desiree ("Shrimp") has chosen an unadorned, stark stone for her young husband and leaves no plants or flowers on his grave. Benny's mother has chosen an elaborate carved stone for his father and is now beneath the overwrought stone herself. Benny diligently plants and tends their graves, overloading it with tokens. But the librarian and the dairy farmer have more differences than just the headstones that transfix them and it is only as they shyly get to know each other and start a relationship that these more substantial differences come to light.
If this makes this book sound like a romance, it should, but not one of the sweaty clinch variety. This is an understated and delicate look at the burgeoning love between two people so diametrically opposite each other. And yet at the start their shared passion seems able to overcome so much. It is only with familiarity that the stress fractures grow. Mazetti has drawn an entirely plausible and charming story of a relationship here. Her characters are completely appealing and I felt an immediate pull into their lives. The over-arching sadness that wrapped each of them individually, seemingly cocooning them from the small joys in life, lifts slowly but perceptibly as they allow love and solicitude into their lives in the person of each other.
And while I thought that the about face of the ending was a bit abrupt, I turned the last page wanting desperately to be able to go on to the sequel that is available in Mazetti's native Sweden. Others have used the descriptors charming and delightful and lovely when describing this slight book and I concur wholeheartedly. There is a very light touch here, even when acknowledging the difficulties that love can present and sometimes cannot overcome. Putting the book down was never an option and I finished it in one sitting. Now I feel like I should go back to it and savor the sweetness, the clumsiness of Benny, the cautiousness of Shrimp, and the whole arc of the enchanting story. In case you hadn't yet guessed, I loved this book and feel I'm on a misson to share it with everyone.
Many thanks to Caitlin from FSB Associates for the review copy of this wonderful book.