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Surrey, United Kingdom

Thursday, 7 January 2010

The Shrimp and the Anemone by LP Hartley

This is an absolutely delightful book. There is no huge, romping plot, but it is a beautifully drawn picture of the relationship between two Edwardian siblings, Eustace and Hilda. I distinctly remember reading the opening passage as an exercise in an English lesson at school and it has stayed with me all these years (at least 20!) Eustace is the central character and is such an endearing and loveable character. His worries and terrors are so well portrayed and, while seeming ridiculous are exactly the sort of thing that children do fret about. His fertile imagination is perfectly balanced by Hilda's sensible and reliable nature. For all the wonderful qualities of these two children there is the underlying sense of suffocation which is so well evoked with the opening image of the shrimp and the anemone. In parts it reads almost like a fairy tale, with a heavy emphasis on right and wrong.
I have had LP Hartley's The Go-Between on my TBR pile for some time after picking it up second-hand in Hay-On-Wye last year and am now really looking forward to getting started on that. I've just looked at the customer reviews on Amazon and one reviewer has likened to two books I really enjoyed: Atonement by Ian McEwan and Spies by Michael Frayn. Has anyone else read any of LP Hartley's novels? What are the other Eustace and Hilda novels like (I believe there are two others, The Sixth Heaven and Eustace and Hilda)?

Currently Reading:
The Mesmerist's Apprentice by LM Jackson - I have read a couple of other books by this author (under his other name of Lee Jackson) and they are just wonderfully Victorian and sensational.
Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman - this is my next book club read (suggested by me!)


  1. I've only read L.P. Hartley's the Go-Between and I really loved that. I've heard of this book and your review really makes me want to read it soon. Hope I can find a copy.

  2. I have The Go-Between on my to-read pile but thought I should leave a decent break between Hartley novels! Think The Shrimp & The Anemone was re-published fairly recently by Faber so shouldn't be too difficult to find a copy - although it's always nice to find a second-hand copy!