Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire
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Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  1,073 ratings  ·  326 reviews
In the heart of New York City, hidden in the back room of an old Laundromat, are nine rare and valuable plants. Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire tells the story of this legendary garden, and the distance one woman must travel—from the cold, harsh streets of Manhattan to the lush jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula—to claim what is hers.

Lila Nova lives alone in a...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 16th 2009 by Pantheon (first published January 1st 2009)
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When you pick up this book, turn off your reality meter. Nothing in here is anything like real-life, except maybe the introductions to the plants at the beginning of each chapter. Ready?

Lila Grace Nova is a 30 something, newly divorced, advertising exec in New York City. Her very empty new apartment needs a little decorating, so she goes to the open air market in search of a plant. She meets the decidedly sexy and mysterious David, the Plant Man, who sells her a Bird of Paradise. He keeps her co...more
My friend Staci asked if I wanted to read this book and I said I would. She has to sent it to someone, so I had to get reading it. I thought I would like it from her review, but I wasn't sure.

From the cover it looks kind of like a Better Homes and Gardens kind of book or something. I knew it was about plants, and I was unsure about how plants could be sensual.

Lila finds Exley in a plant stand in town. She ends up buying a bird of paradise plant from him. After that, she sees a plant that really...more
Um - the author was obviously smoking her favorite sensimilla bud when writing this. As far as I know, rattlesnakes don't live in wet damp jungles. They don't dance 6 feet tall in the air like cobras. They don't get as big as pythons. Scorpions don't feast on human blood or lurk in grass in numbers that make you have to "tiptoe". I could go on. I still rated this a three because she gets credit for lots of imagination and a fun plot. I have a better appreciation for orchids (I a...more Um - the...more
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
The original review for this book is posted at Layers of Thought. There is also a giveaway for it there that ends October 3rd - 2010 for the US and Canada.

A “trip” into the realistic yet magical where an urbanite discovers herself in the rain forest of Mexico. It’s city girl goes jungle Jane with consciousness altering plants.

About: Lila is from NYC. She is in her thirties and cynical as well as wounded from her recent divorce. She has sworn off men and most attachments - “no pets, no plants, no...more
Jennifer Defoy
I picked up this book only because the title sounded interesting. I didn't read any reviews on it, nor did I read through the description. They say not to judge a book by it's cover, but I did, and I'm happy.

This was a very good book. It has love, romance, lust, greed, passion, death, spirituality, and just about everything else. For a debut novel, I'd say that Margot Berwin did a great job. She's left me with high expectations for her next novel.

The story takes place in New York and Mexico, t...more
Well, this book took me by surprise. I was expecting a chick-lit light-weight break from my heavier reading. Instead, this book seems to be an attempt at doing Carlos Castaneda's Don Juan material, or James Redmond's Celestine Prophecies, except with a young NY career woman protagonist and ethnobotany.

As in the Celestine Prophecies and similar books, the characters here are shadowy two-dimensional creatures for whom I could find not interest. They are prone to quoting what seem to be encyclopedi...more
I'm not sure why I'm giving this 2 stars instead of one - but it probably wasn't the story that was so bad as much as the characters. I HATED the girl in the book. So much of what she did or said was just idiotic. I didn't connect with any of the characters even a little bit, which was disappointing.

The plant thing might have been cool but it seemed like it was trying too hard to be mystical and, again, I just didn't connect. But I confess I did google a plant or two to learn about their mystic...more
There were a few good insightful paragraphs toward the end about the main character being desperate for any man who comes along. I also enjoyed some of the ethnobotanical information about the nature of the 9 plants, particularly how cannabis is tortured to make it produce resin. However... most of the first section, in NY, is filled with bad dialogue and nothing happening. Much of the second section, in Mexico, is as randomly surreal as Kafka. It was an attempt at magical realism, trying to ble...more
An uneasy mix of magical realism and older chick lit, I think. Starts off intriguingly when Lila Nova, an ad writer and new divorcee in New York, meets David Exley, a handsome plant salesman in the green market. She becomes enchanted with the world of tropical plants, and when she walks past a steamy, magical looking, plant-filled laundromat with a rare fern in the window, she is drawn inside. The sage-like proprietor, Armand, tells her he has the mythical "nine plants of desire" locked away in...more
Andrea Dowd
Beware when you read this book, it will suck you in and make you do things that are unstoppable.

"Hothouse Flower" is a story of Lila, an ad girl, newly single in NYC. On a whim, she buys a tropical plant from a man and unwittingly begins the journey that will change her life. Lila starts to connect herself to people and living things in ways that she has never done. Upon meeting Armand, a laundromat owner who also grows exotic plants, matter-of-factly dives into her soul.

Feeling greed and a rele...more
This book had me genuinely excited. From first scanning the summaries, I could see it would have a fresh and unique plot and that showed itself throughout the whole book. However, about half-way through the book, the unique morphed into bizarre.
Lila, a depressed divorcee, living in New York, stumbles upon rare and exotic plants and finds a love in nurturing for them. (since she has no people in her life to love now) These plants bring her into the company of David, Armand and the nine plants of...more
Not what I expected. In looking for an audio book for my daily commute I found this little gem which was categorized as a romance. I think the publisher had to squeeze it in somewhere, although it does contain some, not romance really; at least not at first.

At first you have a main character who is so desperate to be in a relationship she doesn't look beyond the superficial masks that are people's public faces. This book is as full of cautionary tales as any volume of "Grimm's Fair...more
Lila Nova finds herself fascinated with plants after buying a Bird of Paradise from a handsome plant man at NYC's Green Market. Walking home one evening, she spies a very rare fern hanging in a window and stumbles upon a strange laundromat housing a tropical paradise. Armand, the owner of the wacky laundry, gives Lila a cutting from the Fire Fern and tells her that, if she can coax it to grow roots, he will show her the 9 mythical plants of desire he has locked in the back room. Unfortunately, L...more
Sep 19, 2010 Staci rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Staci by: Diane-Bibliophile by the Sea/TLC
Descriptive Words: steamy, informative, magical, quirky, sexual, thought-provoking,

Why I wanted to read this book:

* I wanted to be on this tour because Diane @ Bibliophile by the Sea read this book earlier this year and loved it to pieces. After finishing I was absolutely in her camp!!

What worked for me:

* I loved all of the mythical folklore surrounding plants. I have never looked at any flower and thought any deeper about it than the color of the petals and the sweet smell it evokes. This bo...more
Chris Kaake
I wasn't expecting chic lit when I bought this based on an Entertainment Weekly review. Even as chick lit, it's weak. I have enjoyed shopaholic novels and Bridget Jones, but this heroine is weak the people around her are insulting and degrading, and then she continually proves them right! I'm not a stickler for likeable characters, but this is just going too far. I almost want her to fail just because she isn't learning anything and doesn't seem to deserve everything that is promised to the pers...more
Plant magic... mystery... adventure...spirituality.... all can be found in Hothouse Flowers and the Nine Plants of Desire. Yes, it is fiction but what a tale! When I got divorced I should have bought a bird of paradise and taken flight! ;) Ha, just laugh.

I love the use of plants- with the medicinal and magical explainations- which are woven into this tale of discovery.

Fire Fern
Mandrake Root
Lilly of The Valley

Take the adventure to find the final two!
Mary (BookHounds)
If you like weird, you won't be able to put this book down. After reading it, I thought this reminds me a lot of the first time I read a Christopher Moore book. It was completely different from anything I have read lately. I don't know whether to classify this as a romance, chick lit, or what. It just such a pleasure to read something unique. Although the story is a pretty basic "finding yourself" book, the different quests Lila undertakes are something wonderful.
Meh. Good enough for the car. Mindless entertainment about a New York divorcee who goes to Mexico in search of the nine plants of desire... because the original one's were stolen from a laundromat. Yes.

Some of the botanical descriptions were mesmerizing, but it's a shaky narrative at best. Uneven plot and flat characters (Lila was obnoxious and insecure throughout) don't make me want to recommend this to many people.
Thought it was brilliant. I have absolutely no interest in plants and gardening and yet this books so effectively integrated them into a story about life and love and the quest for self. If you have any interest in life, love, mysticism, or gardening you must read this book.
Picked this up at the library without knowing anything about it. Kind of an odd book - the plot pulls you along, and it's fun learning about tropical plant lore, but it reads thin, as though the structure was put in place but never really fleshed out. Very quick read.
Made me look at my plants in a whole new light. Cute, somewhat predictable, but a nice, light read. It was the perfect book to take with me to Key West this weekend.
This book was fast-paced, very sexy and highly entertaining. Loved it!
What an odd book this was. I was drawn in by the title and a review I had read. "Packed with romantic betrayal, plant lore and a couple of visits to a surreal Laundromat in the East Village, she’s [Lila:] on her way to “high adventure” in the Yucatan rain forest, where she’ll encounter ancient magic, poisonous creatures, a murderous exotic plant dealer, and, yes, true love. A wildly inventive novel as vivid and colorful as a jungle flower."

The book definitely delivered all the adventure it promi...more
I started this during the read-a-thon over the weekend and I'm glad I did - it was hard to put down and worked great with the hours of straight reading I had to do. I even started this later in the afternoon when I usually start losing my momentum, but HotHouse Flower helped me keep my momentum going.

I found Lila to be engaging from the beginning. I think a lot of women are lost like Lila and will understand her predicament in this book. I liked the storyline, her relation to the plants and the...more
A quirky and completely unbelievable tale, but gripping nonetheless. I really cared what happened to Lila Nova, as she moved from an intense, shallow, and calculating woman to one of depth and compassion. Lila's was the most rounded and believable character. The other players in the book are more caricatures than characters. No one is as wise and dispassionate as Armand, as evil as Exley, as intuitive and open as Diego, but that's okay. They work together to weave a fascinating story, with a goo...more
Kara Jorges
Lila Nova is your average New Yorker working hard as an ad exec and ignoring her personal life. One day, she wanders through the garden market and meets handsome David Exley, who sells her a bird-of-paradise and awakens her to the mystical world of plants, as well as other things. Later, when a special plant in the window catches her eye, she stumbles upon a unique laundramat brimming with plants and meets Armand, the establishment’s owner. Armand gives her a Colombian fire fern cutting and tell...more
Prissy, city business woman with failed relationship, embarks reluctantly on a journey, finds life changing adventure and learns to unwind.

It seems like I could describe the formula for every mediocre book I’ve read recently, this way. I had all but crossed Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire off of my list when it came in to the library per my months-old request (based on this sexy, catchy little thing). Having recently finished some great books, I thought I might be able to give it a...more
Lila is a woman lost in the jungle of her illusion of a life. Her husband has recently left her, she’s discovered things at work that make her skin crawl every time she sees certain people, and now she’s practically destroyed another person’s life in the process of discovering her own. To recover what was lost she travels to the jungles of Mexico and through the exotic plants of greatest desire she discovers who and what she really wants with life.

When I initially began this book I was intrigued...more
Cheryl Gatling
Now this was different. I had heard this categorized as chick lit (which I think is demeaning), and in some ways it is. A divorced woman has adventures and finds herself in the process. But it also taught me things I didn't know (about plants), and gave me things to think about.

According to legend, whoever possesses all of the nine plants of desire will have anything he desires in life. It is so hard to acquire all nine, that men will kill, steal, or go mad in the pursuit of them. Armand, the ow...more
Naima Haviland
May 03, 2013 Naima Haviland rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: People who like lessons in life wrapped up in an engrossing story
Shelves: audiobooks
This novel is a unique and sensual adventure. By that I don't mean that it's an erotic book. I mean that the narrative description (as well as the characters) openly delight in the senses. Brief plot: Lila is a New York City ad executive in her thirties who meets a) Exley, a hottie at the green market who sells Lila her first exotic plant and b) Armand, an eccentric owner of a business normally associated with drab and dreariness but which he has turned into a botanical garden filled with vibran...more
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Margot Berwin earned her MFA from the New School in 2005. Her stories have appeared on, in the New York Press, and in the anthology The Future of Misbehavior. She worked in advertising for many years and lives in New York City.
Her first novel Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire was published in 2009 by Pantheon. Her new novel, SCENT OF DARKNESS, also by Pantheon is coming out...more
More about Margot Berwin...
Scent of Darkness

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“Plants need roots because they can't move on their own. Their roots serve them well, stopping them from getting blown all over the place by the wind. But we humans can move around at will, and our roots hold us in place unnecessarily. Usually in a place we don't want to be. Then, when we try to move, we rip our roots, and it hurts, so we end up staying right where we are.” 13 likes
“The model stripped down naked and stood with her arms out to her sides while genderless cohorts sprayed her body with large silver canisters of foundation. They wore masks over there faces and sprayed her from head to toe like they were putting out a fire. They airbrushed her into a mono-toned six-foot-two column of a human being with no visible veins, nipples, nails, lips, or eyelashes. When every single thing that was real about the model was gone, the make up artist fug through a suite case of brushes and plowed through hundreds of tubes of flesh colored colors and began to draw human features onto her face. At the same time, the hair stylist meticulously sewed with a needle and thread strand after strand of long blond hairs onto her thin light brown locks, creating a thick full mane of shimmering gold. The model had brought her own chef, who cooked her spinach soup from scratch. The soup was fed to her by one of her lackeys, who existed solely for this purpose. The blond boy stood in front of her, blowing on the soup and then feeding it to her from a small silver child's spoon, just big enough to fit between her lips. the model's mouth was barely open, maybe a quarter of an inch wide, so that she would not crack the flesh colored paint.” 4 likes
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