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The Shrimp and the Anemone

(Eustace and Hilda #1)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  286 ratings  ·  30 reviews
An evocative account of a childhood summer spent beside the sea in Norfolk by brother and sister, Eustace and Hilda.
Paperback, 217 pages
Published April 3rd 2000 by Faber Faber (first published 1944)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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Oh, L.P. Hartley, why are you forgotten?

This is the second Hartley book I've read (the first was The Go-Between), and if anything this one was even better. Both of the books take a double view, with a main character seeing things from childhood and the reader having access to what the adult world probably actually looks like. This is the same technique that makes The House in Paris so enjoyable, and what I wanted from and did not find in What Maisie Knew, though of course for the latter, it may
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Sometimes it seems as if it were the British who invented childhood, especially in the 19th and 20th centuries. L P Hartley's The Shrimp and the Anemone made me think repeatedly of my own childhood, of my own lack of understanding of the adult world, especially where money was concerned. At one point, Eustace thinks if he had the money, he would not have to do anything but hunt and shoot and visit foreign destinations.

Of course, I did not have what Eustace Cherrington had, a sister like Hilda wh
Jake Goretzki
May 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Frankly, this is gorgeous. It's a short novel, yet it took me almost a week as it asks for the slow read (the child's thoughts are unsteady and self-conscious).

I haven't come across a depiction of childhood as tender and nuanced as this since, well, David Copperfield or Great Expectations. Hartley does here what Dickens does so well - he captures the voice and perspective of a boy in an adult world. The boy may sound precocious, but the lost child is there throughout: (I kept thinking of Pip's
3½ stars.
This first book in the Eustace & Hilda trilogy takes place during one summer in the 1930s with Eustace at 9 years old & Hilda 13. He is an odd little boy, at once fanciful and submissive, perhaps due to his poor health. Despite the fact that he is unlike any small boy I have ever known, I quickly became sympathetic to him. The book was a fast read but has some ideas in it that I am still mulling over. I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy!
Ivy-Mabel Fling
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant depiction of childhood with all its agonies and misunderstandings - Eustace is confronted with a world which is alien to him or which he thinks (mistakenly) he has understood only to realise he hasn't. There are relatively few books seen from the point of view of a child and this is one of the best I have read.
Aug 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british
L. P. Hartley knew how to write children. The Go-Between was filled with wonderful insights into the mind of young Leo, his fears and embarrassments. This book, the first in the Eustace and Hilda trilogy, is more of the same but without the tradgedy of The Go-Between. If you are looking for excitement, drama or thrills then this really isn't for you. It's a slow thoughtful book whose events we see through the eyes of young Eustace. He's a sweetly nervous boy who wants to please everyone, most of ...more
Nick Duretta
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
On the surface, 10-year-old Eustace Sherrington's summer in early 20th century Edwardian England seems typical and uneventful: he plays on the beach with his older sister Hilda, he indulges in small fantasies while bathing and sleeping; he develops a crush on a local girl and forms a reluctant friendship with an elderly spinster. Yet Eustace is a sensitive (some might say neurotic) boy who overthinks and worries about everything--the summer is an endless stream of imagined horrors and cataclysmi ...more
Cleopatra  Pullen
Apr 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classic
Having absolutely adored The Go-Between last year I eagerly sought out another book by this twentieth century author.
The Shrimp and the Anemone is the first of a trilogy about siblings Eustace and Hilda. Eustace is the younger, a mere nine years old when we first meet him and Hilda is his older sister by four years. Hilda is strongly committed in making sure young Eustace follows the path of goodness, she is his moral guardian in all things. In fact Hilda is scary in the way she both makes Eusta
Aug 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Having read 'The Go Between' and finding it entertaining I figured there wasn't much to lose in purchasing one of his other novel especially as it was sitting tragically alone in a sale bin for only £1, I'm glad I rescued it... The prose in this book, in my opinion far surpasses that of 'The Go Between'. Hartley manages to capture the beautiful innocence and naivety of a 9 year old boy whilst still using an expanse of wonderful vocabulary. There's something I just can't explain but the soul of t ...more
The Shrimp and the Anemone by LP Hartley
10 out of 10

The Shrimp and the Anemone is a glorious, phenomenal, outstanding, insightful, incredible, rather short masterpiece that has been included on The Guardian 1,000 Novels Everyone Must Read list:

the hero of the chef d’oeuvre is Eustace and the formidable access to the mind of a nine year old is a fantastic joy and the main character is such a remarkable, gentle, brave, complex, intriguing figure as to make t
Apr 03, 2015 rated it did not like it
Well what a most annoying book. It had such great reviews, is set in Norfolk and promised so much, and yes I know it's taken me ages to read but it was so boring and pointless! I just don't get what it was about. 217 pages of ramblings, written in the genre of children but by an adult... Most frustrating and annoying. I have no idea how the book got so many great reviews...what a waste of my time but I was determined to finish it in the hope it got better. However it is possible - I think - to s ...more
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2016
I found this disappointing, totally unable to find much of interest, or sympathy, in either Eustace or Hilda despite the unmistakeable excellence of the writing.
Gary Power
Jul 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
was made to read this for school and ended up loving it. It broke right through my cynicism.
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very intense, atmospheric occasionally delightful if sometimes slightly creepy introspective account of a young boy's interaction with the world, his inner flights of fancy, fears & hopes and particularly his relationship with his older sister Hilda. A gem of a book that captures boyhood, family, ethics and the time beautifully. If you havens read LP Hartley before as I hadn't then give this one a go. I am hooked and looking forward to reading the other 2 in the trio.

Eustace is clearly a very
Landon Shimpa
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Cool, calm prose that perfectly encapsulate specific childhood feelings. A different approach from others I have read that do this well (Stephen King or Robert McCarthy), and a much more foreign setting.

The narrative was just not engrossing enough to make it timeless.
Jan 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Excellent portrayal of an Edwardian child's psyche.
Anne Nobbs
Apr 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
I am afraid I have this one up after a few pages, just not my kind of book.
Mar 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very sweet portrait of a close bond between brother and sister. Just a bit too dry for me.
Geoff Wooldridge
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Hartley has an obvious aptitude for capturing the thoughts, feelings and habits of young boys in his writings.

In his 1953 classic, The Go-Between, he exquisitely captures the innocence, devotion and emotional development of young Leo Colston as he becomes inexorably embroiled in his role as messenger in a secret tryst between two young lovers.

In The Shrimp and the Anemone, published in 1944, Hartley presents the activities, flights of imagination and childlike innocence of Eustace Cherrington,
Andréa Lechner
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this book when I was 20, studying advanced English in Buenos Aires. I was astounded by the evocation of childhood that Hartley conjured up, and his ability to connect the older and younger generations through the friendship between Eustace and Miss Fothergill. This book remains among my top five novels and I would recommend it to all those who like evocations of time past.
Sana Abdulla
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book speaks of a child's world, and his feelings, his fears and his relationship to those around him. The children are so innocent and immature for their age but at the same time very sensitive to every word and action from the adults that control their lives. This is a depiction of a world no longer in existance where children were extremely well behaved and respectful that I had difficulty empathising with the characters. Somehow I kept thinking of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens al ...more
Jul 16, 2016 marked it as to-read
* 1000 novels everyone must read: the definitive list: Family and Self

Selected by the Guardian's Review team and a panel of expert judges, this list includes only novels – no memoirs, no short stories, no long poems – from any decade and in any language. Originally published in thematic supplements – love, crime, comedy, family and self, state of the nation, science fiction and fantasy, war and travel – they appear here for the first time.
Dec 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Before I read Shrimp and the Anemone, I never imagined that I would enjoy reading about a nine year old boy and how the world appears from his perspective. But this story is written with such sensitivity and skill that it reawakened past emotions I thought had faded over the years and been lost forever. What a great writer L.P.Hartley was.
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Not as spectacular as 'The Go-Between', but still beautiful, clever and insightful.
Jan 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Perfectly lovely, and a few pieces of things to turn over in the mind, but overall it just didn't resonate with me at all. Still, I'll read the next and see how it goes.
Sep 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A treat, a rare treat, one of the most lovely and moving books of the last 100 years.
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars - An enjoyable, quick read. I adopt all the reviews that describe how well the author writes children. They are delightful, realistic, and not annoying.
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That opening scene, one of the most visceral set-pieces I've ever encountered.
Simon Jenkins
Apr 20, 2017 rated it liked it
One of the best evocations of how a child's mind works.
Mar 24, 2019 marked it as read-different-version
The Shrimp and the Anemone begins with Eustace and Hilda playing on a Norfolk beach; Eustace is a rather sickly (he has a weak heart) ten-year old boy, who is afraid of almost everything, whilst Hilda, his fourteen year-old sister, is completely different—she has almost taken over the role of their mother who died whilst giving birth to their younger sister, Barbara. Hilda is more sure of herself and used to being in control. She also likes bossing Eustace about and sometimes takes a sort of sad ...more
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Full name: Leslie Poles Hartley.

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“For the first time in his life he was unable to think of himself as existing the next day. There would be a Eustace, he supposed, but it would be someone else, someone to whom things happened that he, the Eustace of to-night, knew nothing about. Already he he felt he had taken leave of the present. For a while he thought it strange that they should all talk to him about ordinary things in ordinary voices; and once when Minney referred to a new pair of sand-shoes he was to have next week he felt a shock of unreality, as though she had suggested taking a train that had long since gone.” 2 likes
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