A Reese's Book Club Pick and New York Times Bestseller
“Fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine will love The Cactus.” —Red magazine
An unforgettable love story that shows sometimes you have to embrace the unexpected.
Susan Green is like a cactus: you can't get too close. She likes things perfectly ordered and predictable. No surprises. But suddenly confronted with the loss of her mother and the unexpected news that she is about to become a mother herself, Susan’s greatest fear is realized. She is losing control.
Enter Rob, the dubious but well-meaning friend of her lazy brother. As Susan’s due date draws near and her world falls further into a tailspin, Susan finds an unlikely ally in Rob. She might have a chance at finding real love and learning to love herself, if only she can figure out how to let go.
"I found myself laughing out loud." —Reese Witherspoon
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
What’s prickly, self-sufficient, and in need of very little succor? In this particular case, it’s Susan Green, the single-gal heroine of Sarah Haywood’s unputdownable debut novel. The truth, quite frankly, is that Susan starts out as a pretty unlikable character. At 45, she’s a London lawyer turned civil servant whose self-imposed emotional isolation has made her no fun at all. But Haywood pulls off the delightful trick of bringing us over to Susan’s side through a gradual series of surprises, major life events, and personal awakenings. The Cactus made us cheer for the transformative power of love.
A cactus is the perfect metaphor for Haywood's hilarious and endearing debut about a prickly woman who thrives no matter her environment. Londoner Susan Green is a controlling single 45-year-old woman who is successful in both her professional life as a civil service worker and in her personal life with formally scheduled liaisons with Richard, a similarly organized and methodical businessman. Susan's disciplined life is rocked when her widowed mother dies and the will specifies that Susan's undeserving, ne'er-do-well younger brother, Edward, whom Susan despises and has little to do with for good reason, can inhabit the family's suburban home until he wants to sell it, at which time the proceeds will be evenly split. To make matters even more complicated, Susan discovers she is pregnant with Richard's child, whom she will raise alone because she doesn't want to be beholden to anyone. She intends to prove that her brother, now living in the house with his buddy, Rob, had undue influence on the content of their infirm mother's will. As Susan builds a case against her brother, she forms a dubious connection with Rob, hoping that will help her garner the truth about Edward's motives. What she eventually learns not only about her mother but also about herself thoroughly alters her approach to life, which Haywood lovingly and humorously demonstrates is actually a very good thing. The novel is consistently enjoyable, anchored by the splendid character of Susan.
Better near the end
It’s too bad this story is much better toward the end. I found it hard to read for a long time- but stayed with it, and it really got so much better. I wish the author many successful books.
Honestly I hated this book in the first half, Susan is very unpleasant. I decided to stick it out and continue reading, then it clicked when Rob talked about blossoming cactuses. Susan is the cactus that blossomed in the novel. It was actually pretty cute in the end. Her life experiences make sense why she is the way she is, and I’m glad that was elaborated.
Only 4 stars because I didn’t like that she drank half a bottle of wine while pregnant. Maybe let’s not do that.
Worth allowing yourself to read through this!
While I admit in the beginning I was almost put off by main characters personality and idiosyncrasies I quickly discovered the root of where they came from and learned to love, admire and respect this woman! How strong willed and successful she became despite the odds of her childhood and family dilemmas