The Cactus
IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO BLOOMPeople aren't sure what to make of Susan Green—a prickly independent woman, who has everything just the way she wants it and who certainly has no need for messy emotional relationships.Family and colleagues find her standoffish and hard to understand, but Susan makes perfect sense to herself, and that's all she needs.At forty-five, she thinks her life is perfect, as long as she avoids her feckless brother, Edward—a safe distance away in Birmingham. She has a London flat which is ideal for one; a job that suits her passion for logic; and a personal arrangement providing cultural and other, more intimate, benefits.Yet suddenly faced with the loss of her mother and, implausibly, with the possibility of becoming a mother herself, Susan's greatest fear is being realised: she is losing control.When she discovers that her mother's will inexplicably favours her brother, Susan sets out to prove that Edward and his equally feckless friend Rob somehow coerced this dubious outcome. But when problems closer to home become increasingly hard to ignore, she finds help in the most unlikely of places.This sparkling debut is a breath of fresh air with real heart and a powerful emotional punch. In Susan we find a character as exasperating and delightful as The Rosie Project's Don Tillman. An uncompromising feminist and a fierce fighter, it's a joy to watch her bloom.

The Cactus Details

TitleThe Cactus
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 4th, 2018
PublisherTwo Roads
ISBN-139781473660632
Rating
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Romance, Adult Fiction

The Cactus Review

  • Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com4.5 starsThe Cactus is a book that comes with such a visually stunning cover, it is filled with flourishing cactus plants, set against a shimmering metallic background and I will admit that it won me over instantly. I also adore the cover tagline that adds further embellishment to this already spectacular cover. The Cactus is comes with the cover quote “It’s never too late to bloom”. Self acceptance and life changes at a mature age are the central themes tha *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com4.5 starsThe Cactus is a book that comes with such a visually stunning cover, it is filled with flourishing cactus plants, set against a shimmering metallic background and I will admit that it won me over instantly. I also adore the cover tagline that adds further embellishment to this already spectacular cover. The Cactus is comes with the cover quote “It’s never too late to bloom”. Self acceptance and life changes at a mature age are the central themes that dominate The Cactus, the debut novel from Sarah Haywood. I tend to shy away from book comparisons, but this is a novel that echoes the work of the great Graeme Simsion of The Rosie Project (he endorsed the front cover). The Cactus also reminded me somewhat of another debut I loved last year, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. But, The Cactus is a novel that easily makes its own mark and it will worm its way into your heart.The apt title of the book refers to the lead, Susan Green’s love for cactus plants, which she keeps in her work office. It could also be seen as a metaphor for the bristly nature of the heroine of the story. Susan Green is the peculiar protagonist who sits at the helm of The Cactus. When the novel opens, Susan is forty five years old, she is a fiercely independent woman, who is set in her ways. With a functional London flat, a long standing career and a relationship that has strict ground rules, Susan’s carefully ordered life is just as she wants it. Until one day, her world comes tumbling down. The death of her mother follows the news that Susan is also in the family way. The Cactus follows Susan as she grapples with getting her head around the prospect that she is to become a mother, which introduces her to whole new set of testing experiences. Life for Susan Green suddenly becomes very complicated.It was an immense pleasure to be introduced to the writing of debut novelist Sarah Haywood. The Cactus is a novel that I can easily attest to enjoying from cover to cover. Much of my adoration for this novel comes from the lead, Susan Green. I will make it clear that some will not warm to Susan straight away, or not at all. Her spiky, feminist, forthright and often odd nature may get under the skin of some readers, but for me, I loved her from the start. Some reviewers have remarked on their inability to connect to such a cutting character, but persisting with Susan really does pay off. I enjoyed the metamorphosis of Susan very much.I liked the mystery that surrounded Susan, which hits you smack bang in the face in the first pages of the novel. I liked how Susan was represented by Haywood as a puzzle or enigma. My money was on some kind of trauma from an accident (I was somewhat close in my estimations) and then I gravitated towards Susan sitting on the autism spectrum. Either way, I enjoyed the chance to get to know Susan. As the book progresses we learn more about Susan’s childhood and life as a young adult through the flashbacks that were included in this novel, as well as her interactions with the delightful characters in this novel. It becomes apparent that Susan is a very quirky woman set in her ways, but at times, her reasoning did make sense and even seemed rational. I admired her for sticking to the routines that made her feel safe. All the same, it was thrilling to see her break free from her restrictions and live in the moment in the latter stages of the book.Supporting Susan is a fine cast of individuals who are all fully fleshed out characters. Protagonists such as Susan’s brother Edward, memories of her mother and father, aunt Sylvia, her twin cousins, neighbour Kate, friend with benefits Richard, university pal Brigid and finally Rob are all so full of life they burst out from the pages of this novel. As the book is solely narrated by Susan in first person, we get an excellent feel for these characters in the eyes of Susan. Her observations of the people in her life are sharp, nuanced and even a crack up at times! The Cactus is a book that I would definitely say is a character dominated novel. The narrative, which mainly revolves around the battle for Susan’s mother’s inheritance and Susan’s impending motherhood, shapes itself around the character set of this delightful novel.In terms of themes, The Cactus works well to draw our attention to a number of issues. Within the novel, Haywood examines memories, upbringing, sibling rivalry, alcoholism, serious illness, grief, lost love, inheritance disputes, marital problems, single parenthood, adoption and mature age pregnancy. Each of these themes are coloured in perfectly by Haywood. I appreciated the lens in which Haywood puts on these topics, through the unusual guise of Susan Green, the lead.On the whole I loved this novel, very much. There was only one small drawback. The book beats slowly. It took me much longer than usual to get through The Cactus but I did seem to savour every word. However, as a fast reader, this aspect of the book perplexed me! Despite my reservation about the slow pace, I took great joy in being a part of Susan’s rise. It really was a touching experience to watch her grow into her own and embrace all facets of her life. The final message I took from this book is that it is never too late to bloom, do not let life pass you by!The Cactus is a simply wonderful debut. Sarah Haywood definitely has a new fan!*I wish to thank Hachette Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
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  • Ioanna
    January 1, 1970
    I really loved this one!😍
  • The Empire of Me
    January 1, 1970
    Die Charaktere in diesem Buch sind alle glaubhaft und liebevoll gestaltet. Vor allem mit Susan konnte ich mich vom ersten Augenblick an identifizieren: ich mag auch keine Menschen. Ich mag keine Überraschungen oder plötzliche Ereignisse. Ich habe gerne Struktur in meinem Leben und die Kontrolle. Wenn also irgendetwas diese Struktur stört oder gar kaputt macht bin ich zumindest erstmal mit der Situation überfordert. (Das hat natürlich alles seine Gründe, auf die ich hier jedoch nicht näher eingeh Die Charaktere in diesem Buch sind alle glaubhaft und liebevoll gestaltet. Vor allem mit Susan konnte ich mich vom ersten Augenblick an identifizieren: ich mag auch keine Menschen. Ich mag keine Überraschungen oder plötzliche Ereignisse. Ich habe gerne Struktur in meinem Leben und die Kontrolle. Wenn also irgendetwas diese Struktur stört oder gar kaputt macht bin ich zumindest erstmal mit der Situation überfordert. (Das hat natürlich alles seine Gründe, auf die ich hier jedoch nicht näher eingehen möchte.) So konnte ich Susan sehr gut verstehen. Auch ihre Handlungen konnte ich sehr gut nachvollziehen, denn ich hätte genauso gehandelt. Das Buch ist aus der Sicht von Susan geschrieben, was dem Leser ihre Gedanken und Gefühle sehr nahe bringt. Dadurch wird vielleicht auch Lesern, die völlig anders sind als Susan, ermöglicht, sie und ihre Welt zu verstehen.Der Schreibstil ist flüssig und lässt sich sehr gut lesen. Wäre die Schrift nicht so klein gewesen, hätte ich das Buch vermutlich an einem oder zwei Abenden durchgesuchtet. Wem es also mit kleiner Schrift geht wie mir, sollte vielleicht lieber zur E-Book Variante* greifen und die Schrift entsprechend vergrößern.Die Story hat mich sehr berührt. Obwohl Susan keine Emotionen mag, fand ich die Geschichte sehr emotional. Sie hat mich immer wieder an Situationen aus meinem eigenen Leben erinnert und ich habe mich mehrmals dabei ertappt, wie ich beim Lesen genickt und "Ja" oder "hätte ich auch so gemacht" gesagt habe.Falls irgendwen interessiert, wie ich ticke, der sollte dieses Buch lesen xDAnsonsten ist dieses Buch etwas für jeden, der eine etwas andere aber trotzdem besondere und emotionale Geschichte lesen möchte.
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  • Anne
    January 1, 1970
    So, let's talk about that cover. It's absolutely sublime, and I have to admit that as soon as I opened up the envelope when it dropped through my letterbox, I bumped this one to the very top of the 'to be read' pile. See, I'm a cover tart, I have to admit it. There is nothing more likely to get me interested in a book than a beautifully produced cover, and especially a hardback cover. I was truly besotted.The contents of the book certainly do not disappoint either. Yes, we can certainly judge th So, let's talk about that cover. It's absolutely sublime, and I have to admit that as soon as I opened up the envelope when it dropped through my letterbox, I bumped this one to the very top of the 'to be read' pile. See, I'm a cover tart, I have to admit it. There is nothing more likely to get me interested in a book than a beautifully produced cover, and especially a hardback cover. I was truly besotted.The contents of the book certainly do not disappoint either. Yes, we can certainly judge this book by its cover. It is just as beautiful on the inside as it is on the out; perfectly written and paced, with a lead character who will bring out every emotion and feeling for the reader.The Cactus is the story of Susan Green. At first, she doesn't seem particularly likeable and to be honest, I'd hate to sit next to her in the office, but gradually and slowly, this very talented and gifted author brings her to life. The reader is allowed glimpses from Susan's childhood, and early adulthood and these make it very clear that Susan really is a product of her upbringing.One early reviewer likened Susan to the offspring of Don from the Rosie Project and Bridget Jones, and that really is the perfect description. However, I like Susan much more than I like either of those characters, scarily enough I found myself identifying with some of her thoughts and behaviours; I think we all have our little quirks and Susan and I have quite a few in common.At the heart of the story is the fact that single Susan is forty-five and pregnant with her first child. Her mother has recently died and Susan is outraged to find that, according to the will, her brother Edward has the right to stay in the family home until he chooses to move. Susan deals with both of these matters in her organised and military fashion. A baby is just a small person who won't take up much room at all, and once she's prepared her case for the Court, she's bound to get her half of the money immediately, isn't she? After all, Susan has gone through life so far in her own tenacious fashion so there's no reason that this won't work out perfectly for her.What Susan doesn't consider is that huge changes that both pregnancy and bereavement will bring to her. Suddenly, she is experiencing emotions and feelings that are alien to her, and her journey to realisation about relationships is wondrous to experience.Sarah Haywood has created one of the most wonderful characters that I've ever come across. She is perfectly formed, both interesting and irritating at times, but by the end of the story, I was totally and utterly in love with her.The Cactus is a joyful, funny and very insightful story. Incredibly well written and wonderfully imagined. Effortlessly entertaining with captivating observations. This really was a joy to read.https://randomthingsthroughmyletterbo...
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  • Kate Olson
    January 1, 1970
    🌵 🎧 Yay for great audiobooks with fabulous narrators with ACCENTS! British, in this case.•THE CACTUS was my latest listen and it was a great one 💗 I adore quirky characters and this one has that PLUS family drama PLUS love ~ highly recommend to fans of “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman and “Something Like Happy” by Eva Woods 😊 Both of those are excellent on audio as well, BTW!
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  • Rona
    January 1, 1970
    This book is perfect in every way and I was really sad when I'd finished. I was engrossed, enthralled, so vested in Susan's life and what was happening to her. What a well-rounded character and how well the author fed the reader the pieces of Susan's past that made her such a prickly character. Her voice was perfect and really made me laugh at her little observations - I could picture the expression on her face as I read her thoughts. So cleverly written and such a lovely warm-hearted story. LOV This book is perfect in every way and I was really sad when I'd finished. I was engrossed, enthralled, so vested in Susan's life and what was happening to her. What a well-rounded character and how well the author fed the reader the pieces of Susan's past that made her such a prickly character. Her voice was perfect and really made me laugh at her little observations - I could picture the expression on her face as I read her thoughts. So cleverly written and such a lovely warm-hearted story. LOVED IT!I'll definitely look out for more books from this author.
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  • Lydia Bailey
    January 1, 1970
    A 3.5 from me. I enjoyed the book on the whole & it’s our current book club read so will do a full review at a later date. It felt a little like a copy cat to Eleanor Olephant to me. The main character is very similar, especially in the way she deals with people, but I didn’t like her nearly as much as Eleanor and found her rudeness annoying in places. A heartwarming tale but takes a while to get there.
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  • Tania
    January 1, 1970
    Susan, the main character, is a prickly woman in her mid forties. ( Of course, we come to learn that she is a product of her upbringing). She has her life well ordered, with a job that suits her and a flat in London. Her world is turned upside-down when her Mum dies, leaving her brother a lifetime interest in the family home. Susan, having just found out she is pregnant, must set this injustice right. In order to do this, she must start to rely on, and accept help from other people, something sh Susan, the main character, is a prickly woman in her mid forties. ( Of course, we come to learn that she is a product of her upbringing). She has her life well ordered, with a job that suits her and a flat in London. Her world is turned upside-down when her Mum dies, leaving her brother a lifetime interest in the family home. Susan, having just found out she is pregnant, must set this injustice right. In order to do this, she must start to rely on, and accept help from other people, something she has never done before. She learns a lot about herself and what she is capable of. This book has been recommended for fans of 'Elinor Oliphant is Completely Fine' and there are similarities. I do think people who enjoyed that book, will like this one also.. Overall, an enjoyable read. *Many thanks to Netgalley for a copy to review.*
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  • Sally (whatsallyreadnext)
    January 1, 1970
    Leading a perfectly ordinary life, Susan Green is 45 and is pretty happy with living on her own in a London flat, having a stable job that's ideal for her logical personality and has been enjoying a no-strings-attached arrangement with a guy for several years.That is until she not only finds herself pregnant, but she's also forced to deal with her mother's sudden death and contesting the will against her good-for-nothing younger brother. Susan is now faced with a lot of mayhem in her previously Leading a perfectly ordinary life, Susan Green is 45 and is pretty happy with living on her own in a London flat, having a stable job that's ideal for her logical personality and has been enjoying a no-strings-attached arrangement with a guy for several years.That is until she not only finds herself pregnant, but she's also forced to deal with her mother's sudden death and contesting the will against her good-for-nothing younger brother. Susan is now faced with a lot of mayhem in her previously ordered life and is forced to confront some home truths along the way.In my opinion, this was a nice, easy summer read which I found thoroughly enjoyable. Susan could be viewed as a 'marmite' character - you either love or hate her unique ways. I couldn't help but compare her to characters like Eleanor Oliphant from Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine or Don Tillman from The Rosie Project. I loved both of these characters so it was easy to love Susan too and I was definitely rooting for her throughout the book.
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  • Joanne
    January 1, 1970
    I can't begin to review this book without mentioning that beautiful cover. The image above does not do it justice at all. Those pale pink looking bits are in fact a beautiful shimmering foil. This book was a very welcome surprise when it arrived a couple of weeks ago and when I read the back, I knew it was a book I would enjoy.Susan Green is very, very set in her ways, most definitely on the autistic spectrum, When we meet her at the beginning of the book, her mother has just died provoking very I can't begin to review this book without mentioning that beautiful cover. The image above does not do it justice at all. Those pale pink looking bits are in fact a beautiful shimmering foil. This book was a very welcome surprise when it arrived a couple of weeks ago and when I read the back, I knew it was a book I would enjoy.Susan Green is very, very set in her ways, most definitely on the autistic spectrum, When we meet her at the beginning of the book, her mother has just died provoking very little emotional response. She is also coming to terms with the surprising realisation that at the age of 45, she is pregnant for the first time - this was most definitely not in her plan! She enjoys living by herself in her small one bedroom flat but recognises that she will need somewhere bigger when the baby comes. The inheritance from the sale of her mother's house will help with this. However, shockingly and unexpectedly, her mother had recently made a will granting her brother, Edward, lifetime rights to stay in the house. Convinced this cannot reflect her mother's true wishes, she determines to challenge the will.I found it interesting that there is a quote from Graeme Simsion on the cover as Susan is a very similar character to his Don Tillman from The Rosie Project. Like Don, she has a very rigid, ordered way of life which suits her perfectly and little understanding of others. Also like Don, she comes up against circumstances beyond her control which make her uncomfortable but force her to adapt and change. I really liked how Susan gradually had to adapt yet remained true to herself. She was frustrating to read about at times but then I don't have that understanding of what it is to be autistic and her behaviour and reactions were perfectly logical to her. She did make me laugh a lot too though. One example was when she had to go into her neighbour's house to look after her toddler daughter in an emergency situation. She is quite horrified at the state of the house. "I don't see why having children should be an excuse for letting your standards slip. I'd be surprised if my own did." I'm sure that many mothers (and fathers) would have a wry smile at that. I think we all have plans and ideas of what parenthood might be like which change very soon after that little person arrives and turns your life upside down!I think that Susan is a character who becomes more endearing as you follow her through her pregnancy and her legal battles with her brother.  I'd quite like to find out how Susan copes with motherhood so hoping there might be a sequel at some point. Susan is most certainly a quirky, memorable character and The Cactus is an assured debut from an author I'll be watching out for in the future. 
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  • Karen Mace
    January 1, 1970
    5 stars for the cover - it's stunningly beautiful! But unfortunately only 3 stars for the story! That's not to say I didn't enjoy it as it was an interesting story, but I just didn't connect with the character as I hoped I would and I just felt that the book was missing something although I'm not sure what that was!The main character, Susan Green, is very set in her ways! She's very independent and likes her own routine and seems at odd with the modern world around her at times. She is a fan of 5 stars for the cover - it's stunningly beautiful! But unfortunately only 3 stars for the story! That's not to say I didn't enjoy it as it was an interesting story, but I just didn't connect with the character as I hoped I would and I just felt that the book was missing something although I'm not sure what that was!The main character, Susan Green, is very set in her ways! She's very independent and likes her own routine and seems at odd with the modern world around her at times. She is a fan of the old fashioned approaches to life! She's not on social media to the surprise of her work mates, and is happy enough just getting on with her job and taking care of her Cactus collection.The story then follows her as she deals with the death of her mother, the fractured relationship with her brother thereafter and trying to come to terms with decisions made by others in her past that finally reveal themselves to her - all while she is coming to terms herself with her finding out she is pregnant and determined to raise the child by herself.You definitely see a softer side of Susan as the months tick by - she finds a friend in the unlikeliest of places and the quest to try and contest the will that her mother left also leads to some startling revelations that unsettle her and shatter everything she thought she knew. She has to learn the art of compromise and to think of others and their feelings - something that has never been easy for her to deal with.I enjoyed the times when Sarah was looking back at her childhood and how those events changed her, and overall I found it a pretty enjoyable read.
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  • Natasha Ellis
    January 1, 1970
    I really loved this, Susan the main character was a bit reminiscent of Eleanor Oliphant but the story was completely different. Was slow paced but very readable.Though the one thing that bugged me was the use of the word Mom when it was set in England
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  • Grace J Reviewerlady
    January 1, 1970
    I can honestly state that this book is unique to any other I’ve ever read .. and it’s a great read!Susan controls every aspect of her life. At forty five, she lives alone – as she likes it – and has a very regimented routine. Her colleagues, by dint of being human, annoy her – well, let’s be honest – most things annoy her. She fails to understand why everyone doesn’t follow her example of a strict routine and maintain a compartmentalised and – in her mind – perfect life.As this story progresses, I can honestly state that this book is unique to any other I’ve ever read .. and it’s a great read!Susan controls every aspect of her life. At forty five, she lives alone – as she likes it – and has a very regimented routine. Her colleagues, by dint of being human, annoy her – well, let’s be honest – most things annoy her. She fails to understand why everyone doesn’t follow her example of a strict routine and maintain a compartmentalised and – in her mind – perfect life.As this story progresses, we find out all about Susan’s back story .. family life, love life, relationships, friends – or lack thereof. There are a few giggles along the way and certainly a few surprises! The ending of the book was astounding – but in a good way.I adored this one. I found myself fully immersed in Susan’s life and to my surprise, entertained. It’s similar to a coming-of-age tale in some ways, definitely addictive and one which I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys a contemporary read.My thanks to John Murray Press for approving my copy via NetGalley. This is my honest, original, and unbiased review.
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  • Katheryn Thompson
    January 1, 1970
    I think that the premise of this book works really well: an intelligent, independent, and capable woman suddenly starts to lose control of her life, as she has to face her family, the loss of her mother, and her unplanned pregnancy. And while parts of this story are inevitably a little cliched (all stories with a happy ending are), the voice of the protagonist is anything but.I loved the originality of the character of Susan, and her distinctive voice, and I particularly loved the way that Haywo I think that the premise of this book works really well: an intelligent, independent, and capable woman suddenly starts to lose control of her life, as she has to face her family, the loss of her mother, and her unplanned pregnancy. And while parts of this story are inevitably a little cliched (all stories with a happy ending are), the voice of the protagonist is anything but.I loved the originality of the character of Susan, and her distinctive voice, and I particularly loved the way that Haywood doesn't make her sacrifice her uniqueness in order to find her happy ending. With the exception of one particular conversation between Susan and her neighbour Kate about feminism, which (while I completely agree with the author's sentiment) felt a little shoehorned in, I felt that The Cactus struck the perfect balance between relatability and individuality. I would definitely recommend this one, especially if you're in the need of something to cheer you up.(Its rose-gold spine is also the perfect addition to any bookshelf!)
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  • Anmiryam
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed Susan. Her voice, at time irritating, at times heartbreaking, drove my interest in this tale of mid life upheaval and renewal. Many readers will feel find her off putting at first, but keep reading. I promise she’ll grow on you. Once you understand you need to read behind the lines to see the hurts she’s nursed for decades she becomes approachable. I was rooting for her and while I found the romance a bit of an add on, I hoped everything works out for her. FYI, I listened to the I really enjoyed Susan. Her voice, at time irritating, at times heartbreaking, drove my interest in this tale of mid life upheaval and renewal. Many readers will feel find her off putting at first, but keep reading. I promise she’ll grow on you. Once you understand you need to read behind the lines to see the hurts she’s nursed for decades she becomes approachable. I was rooting for her and while I found the romance a bit of an add on, I hoped everything works out for her. FYI, I listened to the first half and then decided I was having too much fun so I found the ARC to read the rest.
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  • Evelyn Romp
    January 1, 1970
    Voor iedereen die wilde dat er meer boeken zouden zijn zoals Eleanor Oliphant. Ontroerend, grappig, verrassend, lief en best heel herkenbaar eigenlijk. Halverwege zakt het verhaal een beetje in, maar dat wordt snel weer goedgemaakt.Overigens denk ik niet dat dit het zoveelste "Asperger is eigenlijk best grappig"-boek is.
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  • Claudia
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to like this book, but unfortunately I didn’t. I read a few chapters and I thought was not what I was expecting. I didn’t finish the book .
  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    Book reviews on www.snazzybooks.com The Catus is a brilliant read, following main character Susan who is so interesting to read about. She is a very independent, confident person who has firm beliefs and a fairly unique way of interacting with other people. We see,  throughout this novel, some of the reasons for the way she behaves around people, and although at first I couldn't imagine ever wanting to spend a significant amount of time with her, by the end of the book I could really appreciate Book reviews on www.snazzybooks.com The Catus is a brilliant read, following main character Susan who is so interesting to read about. She is a very independent, confident person who has firm beliefs and a fairly unique way of interacting with other people. We see,  throughout this novel, some of the reasons for the way she behaves around people, and although at first I couldn't imagine ever wanting to spend a significant amount of time with her, by the end of the book I could really appreciate what a quirky, interesting character she is. What you see is what you get with Susan; she's unapologetically stuck in her ways and will change for no-one (or so it seems), and I loved that about her! The story follows Susan as she deals with the discovery that, at 45 and having never wanted children, she is pregnant. This comes soon after the death of her mother, and some tricky news regarding the will, and is generally a time when life seems to be testing her a little...The story that follows is heartwarming, a little sad at times, but most definitely a wonderful read. Sarah Haywood has moulded some brilliant characters, from Susan herself and her lovely neighbour Kate, to her (extremely unlikable, but very interesting) brother Edward and his brilliantly unique friend Rob - I loved reading about them all! They seemed to jump off the pages at me and I only wish this novel had been longer, because I could happily have read twice, three times as many pages.Oddly enough, Susan refers to her mother as 'mom' instead of the more commonly-used (in England) 'mum' - not sure if that's another quirk of Susan's but it did make me check whether the author is from (she is British) and in doing this I saw Sarah's Goodreads Author page that she is actually writing a second novel at the moment - yay! I'll be first in the queue.Many thanks to John Murray Press for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.
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  • Tracy Fenton
    January 1, 1970
    I’m on a mission to read as many books as possible with “quirky” characters and when Richard & Judy announced The Cactus as part of their Autumn Book Club choices it seemed perfect timing to start this book.Firstly, I absolutely HATE it when books are compared to other books/characters etc and when the Sunday Times said “‘The Cactus will be compared to Gail Honeyman’s 2017 hit, the appealingly eccentric Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” I try to take it with a pinch of salt and read it w I’m on a mission to read as many books as possible with “quirky” characters and when Richard & Judy announced The Cactus as part of their Autumn Book Club choices it seemed perfect timing to start this book.Firstly, I absolutely HATE it when books are compared to other books/characters etc and when the Sunday Times said “‘The Cactus will be compared to Gail Honeyman’s 2017 hit, the appealingly eccentric Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” I try to take it with a pinch of salt and read it with an open mind. Just because both of the main characters are quirky, independent, individual women it doesn’t necessarily mean the book should be compared, but I must admit I did see lots of similarities so if you enjoyed Eleanor, I am pretty confident The Cactus will appeal too.So, on to the book; it took me a while to warm to Susan, our main character. A fiercely independent, middle aged single woman who is in control of every teeny, tiny aspect of her life until her mother dies unexpectedly. Having to deal with her mothers Last Will and final wishes, face up to her brother Edward with whom she has a very bitter and hostile relationship, Susan has to cope with some harrowing home truths whilst re-examining into her childhood and past.I didn’t really feel much sympathy or empathy for Susan initially, but at one point in the book EVERYTHING changed for me, I shed a little tear and started rooting and cheering for this lovely, quirky and misunderstood character.Overall I thought The Cactus was a charming, heartwarming and feelgood story and thoroughly recommend it.
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  • Cindy H.
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin Publishing for gifting me with an ARC of The Cactus by Sarah Haywood. In exchange I am providing my honest review and opinion.This book was a joy to read!!! Charming and delightful but not sappy or mushy.Like the surprising sabra, a sweet fruit that grows from the prickly cactus, our protagonist Susan is a bit thorny and sharp on the outside but inside she’s full of pure, satisfying originality. Susan’s voice was reminiscent of another unique protagonist, Ele Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin Publishing for gifting me with an ARC of The Cactus by Sarah Haywood. In exchange I am providing my honest review and opinion.This book was a joy to read!!! Charming and delightful but not sappy or mushy.Like the surprising sabra, a sweet fruit that grows from the prickly cactus, our protagonist Susan is a bit thorny and sharp on the outside but inside she’s full of pure, satisfying originality. Susan’s voice was reminiscent of another unique protagonist, Eleanor Oliphant and while I’m sure comparisons will be made, Susan deserves to be applauded on her own merits. Ms. Haywood has written a fabulous book full of memorable characters. I was fully engaged in this story and could not put the book down. (Sorry about cereal for dinner on Tuesday night, family)I look forward to reading more from this author. Highly recommend!!
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  • Grazia Spaccia Libri
    January 1, 1970
    4 e mezzo. Recensione sul blog: http://laspacciatricedilibri.blogspot...
  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    If you were a fan of  Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine , I think that you will really enjoy, The Cactus ! I really do prefer quirky characters so I was excited to dig into this story about a late bloomer that doesn't necessarily fit in (or want to) with her peers.Susan Green, our main character,  is struggling with the loss of her mother and her own news that she will be becoming a mother after her own unplanned pregnancy.When she discovers that her mother's will favors her brother over her, If you were a fan of  Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine , I think that you will really enjoy, The Cactus ! I really do prefer quirky characters so I was excited to dig into this story about a late bloomer that doesn't necessarily fit in (or want to) with her peers.Susan Green, our main character,  is struggling with the loss of her mother and her own news that she will be becoming a mother after her own unplanned pregnancy.When she discovers that her mother's will favors her brother over her, her world is sent into even more of a tailspin because Susan is unable to exercise any control on this situation. Since her brother gets the house in the will and refuses to move out anytime soon, she decides to take legal action against him, believing that her mother would have never changed her will if she had been coherent.All is not as it seems though and Susan discovers that her mother has been keeping a few secrets that will change Susan's life forever.Susan is not a particularly likeable character so some readers may find that they struggle with a connection with her.  That said, Haywood's debut is strong, witty, original, and well-written.
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  • Azzurra Sichera
    January 1, 1970
    Mi è piaciuto molto “La felicità del cactus” di Sarah Haywood (Feltrinelli), per me è un 4 e mezzo. Al di là della storia molto particolare di Susan, la protagonista del romanzo, penso che ognuno di noi possa rispecchiarsi nei suoi timori, nelle sue paure, e possa comprendere quanto sia difficile lasciarsi andare – per davvero – al cambiamento.“Io mi definisco una donna autonoma e piena di risorse. Ciò che mi manca in termini di relazioni personali e familiari è più che compensato dalla mia ricc Mi è piaciuto molto “La felicità del cactus” di Sarah Haywood (Feltrinelli), per me è un 4 e mezzo. Al di là della storia molto particolare di Susan, la protagonista del romanzo, penso che ognuno di noi possa rispecchiarsi nei suoi timori, nelle sue paure, e possa comprendere quanto sia difficile lasciarsi andare – per davvero – al cambiamento.“Io mi definisco una donna autonoma e piena di risorse. Ciò che mi manca in termini di relazioni personali e familiari è più che compensato dalla mia ricca vita interiore, infinitamente più stabile e sicura”. Ecco chi è Susan Green, la protagonista de “La felicità del cactus”. Una donna che ha deciso di essere “completamente autonoma da un punto di vista emotivo e finanziario” in modo tale da non essere ferita. Dipendere da un’altra persona significa poter essere delusi, quindi meglio essere “padroni della propria vita” senza dover rendere conto e ragione a nessuno.Susan non si fa avvicinare da nessuno e anche il lettore, all’inizio, fa fatica a entrare in empatia con il personaggio, esattamente come sarebbe potuto succedere nella vita di tutti i giorni. Susan racconta la sua storia in prima persona, senza arricchirla o senza fronzoli, non sarebbe lei altrimenti. Della serie, se ti interessa bene, se no amen. Devo dire che l’autrice in questo è stata sorprendente, sia nella scelta della prima persona che nello stile usato. Poteva rivelarsi un boomerang, ma credo sia stata una carta vincente.Tornando a Susan, spesso mi ha fatto sorridere per la sua rigidità e per il suo pragmatismo: il più delle volte dice e fa le cose in modo perfettamente “razionale”, ma suonano comunque come “strane”. La vita però, per quanto ci piacerebbe, non può essere programmata, riducendo al minimo gli sprechi, pianificando gli eventi e chiudendo nel cassetto le emozioni. La morte della madre e l’aver scoperto di essere incinta ribalteranno ogni certezza (o quasi).Anche in questo caso, devo dire che Sarah Haywood ha usato uno stretagemma narrativo davvero molto interessante: la trasformazione di Susan avviene contemporaneamente sia dal punto di vista fisico che emotivo. La seguiremo dal terzo mese di gravidanza in poi, fino al parto: sei mesi in cui il cambiamento sarà lento, impercettibile, inarrestabile. Del resto, Mark Twain sosteneva: “L’abitudine è l’abitudine, e nessun uomo può buttarla dalla finestra; se mai la si può sospingere giù per le scale, un gradino alla volta”.E un gradino alla volta Susan farà i conti con le sue fragilità, ci racconterà del suo passato, ma molte cose – sconvolgenti – le scoprirà nel corso della narrazione e affrontarle non sarà facile. Così come non lo sarà capire che non può affrontare tutto quanto da sola. Credo che l’evoluzione di un personaggio sia una delle cose più difficili da raccontare, ma Sarah Haywood ci è riuscita molto bene, specie perché l’ha fatto in modo credibile, senza fare sconti, rendendo il lettore partecipe, lasciandogli spazio per confrontarsi con le proprie emozioni.Nella trama de “La felicità del cactus” si legge: “Susan punge, come i cactus che colleziona”. Rob, l’amico del fratello di Susan che progetta giardini, a un certo punto spiega una cosa importante: i cactus hanno sviluppato le spine al posto delle foglie “per ridurre la superficie attraverso cui fuoriesce l’acqua, senza rinunciare a fare ombra al corpo centrare della pianta”. Molti pensano che le spine servano a tenere lontani i predatori, ma si sbagliano, continua. Ci tengo a sottolinearlo perché la differenza è importante: i cactus non volevano difendersi, hanno sviluppato un sistema più pratico per loro stessi, per il loro bene. In questo Susan gli assomiglia, nelle loro efficienza, non nella volontà di pungere.La recensione completa qui: http://www.silenziostoleggendo.com/20...
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  • gaia arnone
    January 1, 1970
    La protagonista di questo romanzo di esordio di Sarah Haywood è Susan Green, 45enne avvocato, con un impiego nella pubblica amministrazione, proprietaria di un bell’appartamento a Londra e una passione smisurata per i cactus, che cura amorevolmente. Susan è di aspetto gradevole, sebbene un po’ minuta, ha una laurea in legge, un po’ sprecata per le banali mansioni che svolge, è totalmente padrona della sua vita e dei suoi sentimenti e difende strenuamente la piacevole solitudine alla quale si è v La protagonista di questo romanzo di esordio di Sarah Haywood è Susan Green, 45enne avvocato, con un impiego nella pubblica amministrazione, proprietaria di un bell’appartamento a Londra e una passione smisurata per i cactus, che cura amorevolmente. Susan è di aspetto gradevole, sebbene un po’ minuta, ha una laurea in legge, un po’ sprecata per le banali mansioni che svolge, è totalmente padrona della sua vita e dei suoi sentimenti e difende strenuamente la piacevole solitudine alla quale si è votata, almeno fino al giorno in cui il fratello Edward non le telefona per comunicarle che la madre è appena morta, improvvisamente. Complice una inaspettata gravidanza, una feroce lotta con lo scapestrato fratello per l’eredità lasciata dalla madre, l’arrivo nella sua vita del sexy giardiniere Rob ed una vicina di casa simpaticamente invadente, Susan, vede le sue pacate certezze scardinarsi di giorno in giorno. Lo scompiglio avrà sicuramente un risvolto positivo per lei, che imparerà ad ammorbidirsi, scoprendo dei lati del suo carattere inaspettati…Ok, Susan ad un primo impatto può sembrare antipatica, è vero…però se si gratta via un po’ di quella corazza spinosa (come i suoi cactus) che si è creata intorno, troviamo una donna dal carattere forte ma con un interno frizzante! Come dicevo, Susan è una donna forte, lo è sempre stata fin da bambina, quando ha dovuto imparare a sue spese ad affrontare rinunce e piccole ingiustizie già all’interno della sua famiglia un po’ complicata: un padre alcolizzato, la madre super-chioccia nei confronti del piccolo di casa, il pestifero Edward, e lei che si è pian piano indurita per sopportare i vuoti e le mancanze. E’ una femminista convinta Susan, ama la felice solitudine del suo appartamento e sa sempre qual è la frase più appropriata da dire o quale abito indossare. Riesce persino a trovare un uomo, Richard, fatto su misura per lei, un bel tipo piacente conosciuto tramite un’ inserzione sul giornale, con il quale è solita accompagnarsi per cene in locali alla moda, in serate al cinema o al teatro, senza strascichi sentimentali (che fortuna! Se ci provo io al massimo becco lo psicopatico di turno!!). La prematura scomparsa dell’ultimo genitore rimasto, però, apre una sorta di voragine che ingoia tutto ciò che di sicuro e certo c’è nella sua vita: la scintilla scatenante è la lettura del testamento della madre in cui scopre che l’usufrutto della casa di famiglia è toccata al fratello Edward, con il quale non è mai andata d’accordo. Questa ennesima ingiustizia scoperchia un vaso di Pandora che avrà l’effetto di uno tsunami nella sua composta vita, regalando al lettore però la possibilità di scoprire che di fronte alle peripezie e a non poche difficoltà, Susan reagisce si, con il suo solito aplomb un po’ distaccato ma contestualmente scopre quanto è piacevole lasciarsi andare anche quando la tua vita sembra una giostra impazzita!La trama è ben scritta, permeata di citazioni molto british, i personaggi sono tutti dotati di una sferzante ironia e l’effetto sorpresa nel finale rendono la lettura meno scontata! La Haywood ha saputo conciliare bene una storia romantica con un pizzico di drammaticità ed una spolverata di lieto fine, creando una ricetta gustosa e assolutamente vincente!! Consigliato!
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  • Julie Parks
    January 1, 1970
    This book in the definition of English humor. It should even come with a warning: Don't read it on a rainy morning!I loved every chapter. But the character can get to be a bit too bitter at times. She's a new kind of lol.Thank you NetGalley for the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Afoma Umesi
    January 1, 1970
    I was a bit nervous to start this one because of the comparisons with Eleanor Oliphant (which I LOVED!). However, while both characters are vaguely similar, the plots are massively different. Susan Greene is an uptight, regimented woman in her 40’s whose life is turned upside down when her mother dies and leaves the family house to her (Susan’s) little brother until he is able to move out. Susan vehemently disputes her late mother’s will and in the process of legally refuting it, opens a can of I was a bit nervous to start this one because of the comparisons with Eleanor Oliphant (which I LOVED!). However, while both characters are vaguely similar, the plots are massively different. Susan Greene is an uptight, regimented woman in her 40’s whose life is turned upside down when her mother dies and leaves the family house to her (Susan’s) little brother until he is able to move out. Susan vehemently disputes her late mother’s will and in the process of legally refuting it, opens a can of worms about her mother’s life, choices and secrets.I listened to the audiobook and was very engrossed in the narration. Susan’s uptight attitude is often hilarious and I found her inner monologues entertaining. Ultimately, a lighthearted read about family, unexpected romance and the beauty of letting go.
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  • Elaine's Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    There are many quotes doing the rounds that say if you liked Eleanor Oliphant and/or A Man Called Ove, then this book is for you. I have to say that I really connected with the main character in the book, Susan. There was something utterly endearing about her and I could identify with her in a way that I haven't with another character in a book for quite a while. I really loved this book. Susan is a woman who, for the best part of her life, has tried to maintain complete and utter control and di There are many quotes doing the rounds that say if you liked Eleanor Oliphant and/or A Man Called Ove, then this book is for you. I have to say that I really connected with the main character in the book, Susan. There was something utterly endearing about her and I could identify with her in a way that I haven't with another character in a book for quite a while. I really loved this book. Susan is a woman who, for the best part of her life, has tried to maintain complete and utter control and discipline over her life. She finds herself unexpectedly pregnant at the age of 45 and slowly but surely her train of thought, and subsequently, her self-preserved way of life begins to change. I laughed and I cried reading this book, it is at times a little bit heartbreaking, but also it is a warm, engaging and humorous read . I would recommend this book without hesitation.
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  • Bonnye Reed
    January 1, 1970
    GNab The Cactus is an excellent British novel, set in Birmingham and London, that brings to life a plethora of life lessons; birth and death, greed and generosity, stubbornness and weak-willed. But the most important life lesson I mined from the pages of The Cactus is how to go about defining "family". Sarah Haywood allows us an intimate peek into the lives of the Green Family - Clive and Patricia, Susan and Edward. And Sylvia and Frank Mason, Wendy and Chrissie and the grandchildren.I received GNab The Cactus is an excellent British novel, set in Birmingham and London, that brings to life a plethora of life lessons; birth and death, greed and generosity, stubbornness and weak-willed. But the most important life lesson I mined from the pages of The Cactus is how to go about defining "family". Sarah Haywood allows us an intimate peek into the lives of the Green Family - Clive and Patricia, Susan and Edward. And Sylvia and Frank Mason, Wendy and Chrissie and the grandchildren.I received a free electronic copy of this novel from Netgalley, Sarah Haywood, and Two Roads Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.pub date Jan 25, 2018Two Roads Publishing
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  • Emma Seaton
    January 1, 1970
    A lovely, fun heart warming read which was perfect for the warm days. I found the storyline of the book to be well thought out and developed in a way I could see naturally happening in real life.I loved the characters especially the main character, she had wonderful development throughout and would love a follow up of her life. Speaking of life, the love interest although happened slightly fast suited the story well and was a lovely addition. Overall a lovely read which I’m glad I read and also A lovely, fun heart warming read which was perfect for the warm days. I found the storyline of the book to be well thought out and developed in a way I could see naturally happening in real life.I loved the characters especially the main character, she had wonderful development throughout and would love a follow up of her life. Speaking of life, the love interest although happened slightly fast suited the story well and was a lovely addition. Overall a lovely read which I’m glad I read and also has a stunning cover.
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    3-4 starsI’ve read many reviews saying that readers found Susan, the main character, endearing despite her abrupt and spiky personality. I disagree! I didn’t feel as if I connected with her at all and felt distanced from the events that took place - very much an observer rather than being absorbed by the story. It was an interesting read though, well written, and I did find it humorous in places.
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