Title: The Cactus
Author: Sarah Haywood
Publisher: John Murray Press
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO BLOOM
People 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.
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.