If you liked Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, then you will LOVE The Cactus by Sarah Haywood. Susan Green is a very endearing protagonist. Her voice bears a striking resemblance to Eleanor Oliphant. The novel, set in London, is a bit slow at first, but give the story a chance, and you may be surprised about how good the narrative turns out to be. This debut novel by Sarah Haywood is certainly a winner in my mind.
Susan’s whole life is based on practicality. She is not impulsive and enjoys to follow rules. She loves her cacti and doesn’t really have any real relationships in her life, besides her mother. After her mother dies, Susan starts spending more time with other family members to try to discover why her mother made her will the way she did. As the story progresses, certain facts about Susan’s life are revealed to the reader. Facts that provide evidence to why Susan is the way she is.
Written in first person, Susan talks to the reader as if you are her friend. Susan and her brother, Edward, never connected as they were growing up. The lack a familial bonds makes planning a funeral infuriating for Susan. In the midst of trying to cope with the loss of her mother, and the realization that the will her mother made isn’t “fair,” Susan discovers that she is carrying a child she never thought she wanted. Susan is not ready for the extreme life change she is about to endure. For the first time in a long time, Susan begins to accept that she can’t deal with all of these life changes on her own.
While trying to sort out her mother’s will, Susan unintentionally develops a strange friendship with her brother’s temporary roommate , as well as a friendship with her upstairs neighbor, who is a single mother. Susan hasn’t had any legitimate friends in a long time. She keeps to herself at work and up until getting pregnant, has had a weird relationship with a man that involved no real emotional attachment. Susan is a fictional character that I would enjoy having high tea with just to see how quirky she really is in person.
All in all, a good read that has depth and interesting characters. I also really, really love the cover. I’m a sucker for a pretty book cover.
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.