Thursday 25 January 2018

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood @SarahxHaywood @TwoRoadsBooks @alicefherbert #TheCactus

People aren't sure what to make of Susan Green - family and colleagues find her prickly and hard to understand, but Susan makes perfect sense to herself, and that's all she needs.
At 45, 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 by Sarah Haywood is published in hardback by Two Roads Books on 25th January 2018 and is the author's first novel. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

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.

Sarah Haywood was born in Birmingham. After studying Law, she worked in London and Birkenhead as a solicitor, in Toxteth as an advice worker, and in Manchester as an investigator of complaints about lawyers. 

She now lives in Liverpool with her husband and two sons.

Find out more at
Find her Author Page on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter @SarahxHaywood
Instagram @sarahjhaywood

1 comment:

  1. What a delightful review which makes me want to read it.