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Midnight Cactus

3.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  264 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
The best-selling author of Hunting Unicorns returns with a stirring and suspenseful tale of love and the quest for freedom, vividly set in the wild lands between Arizona and the Mexican border. On the run from her claustrophobic marriage in London, Alice Coleman moves her two small children to the American desert hoping to find the solitude she craves but hadn’t thought po ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published December 8th 2006 by Grove Press, Black Cat (first published January 1st 2006)
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Sep 24, 2011 Marliss rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
Not worth your time. Just another book about a woman who is dissatisfied in her marriage. She drags her children from Scotland to Arizona to put some space in her marriage. I didn't finish reading the book. Her children come off as brats, which she fails to see or discipline. The mystery was somewhat intriguing, but not enough to hold me to the book despite the annoying self-centeredness of the main character.

Also, obviously Bella Pollen and/or her editor failed to do minimal research on Arizona
Nov 25, 2015 Helen rated it did not like it
Absolute drivel, life is too short, I actually gave up
Jul 31, 2015 Donia rated it did not like it
I am going to be critical here. Usually I give authors a bit of slack but there is so much wrong with this book. It could have been a good story but it was ruined by the fact that this author does NOT know anything about Arizona. If one is going to write about a place that they don't know about they should learn about it first. And...where was the editor here? So the story is about a mother who is pissed at her husband because he doesn't understand her so drags her brats (age 5 & 7 )to the o ...more
Apr 05, 2012 Emily rated it it was ok
I'm getting tired of books with young British children and an author who can't tell the difference between "precocious" and "obnoxious".
The pacing of the book was strange. It was ACTION, boring... boring... boring... BORING... ACTION!, odd non-ending.
Mar 16, 2014 Colleen rated it it was amazing
Thia was a good read. I think it could easily be on Oprah Winfrey's book list. A great story about life and the lessons we learn. The trials of doing the right thing when we feel like something else. The story takes place in the severe desert of Arizona and Mexico on the border. Hsving spent some time in Tuscon and visiting Nogales Mexico it was fun to read the story and remember the place. I personally like fairy tale endings which this does not I have already imagined an alternate en ...more
Apr 06, 2016 Amy rated it liked it
I don't usually write long reviews, but I feel driven to defend this book. Some of the critical reviews on Goodreads seem to be written by people who missed the humor. It's true the main character is a bit of a ditz, especially at the beginning. One reviewer criticized the book because Alice, the character, should have known about rattlesnakes. But Alice is a city slicker (a Londoner), so OF COURSE she doesn't know. It's FUNNY... The handsome cowboy puts her straight later. Someone else complain ...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
It was a little slow to start with and I wasn't sure where it was going but eventually I found it quite intriguing - mainly for the story surrounding border crossings and the issues surrounding that.
I thought the female lead was an idiot at times, she could be incredibly thoughtless and selfish and naive but I am willing to temper that with the idea that her unfamiliarity with the country really would mean she would have little clue, and her lifestyle was previously all about her. Not the best
Freda Lightfoot
Oct 23, 2010 Freda Lightfoot rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book which moves along at a good pace. Alice has run away from London to escape a dead end marriage, and taken her children to a ghost town in the Arizona desert near the Mexican border. It is empty and arid, a bit on the wild side, and life here is completely alien to the one the family is used to back home. Alice meets Duval, a cowboy builder, Benjamin, a Mexican with a lop-sided smile, Nora, a ten-tonne former hairdresser, who all seem to have some mystery about them. Al ...more
Sep 11, 2008 Kirsten rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club
I really didn't like this book. I'm able to remember it with a little more appreciation after we talked about it at book club. (Well, other people talked...I mostly ranted about the main character being British and hating tea...sorry, everyone.) I did not enjoy reading this book...but it did elicit a reaction from me, so maybe it's not all bad. I was infuriated with Alice, the main character, throughout the entire novel. She's self-indulgent, self-serving, self-centered and just plain selfish. I ...more
Jun 22, 2013 Cat. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is one of those books that involves the landscape as a character in the story. Alice brings her two children from London to Temerosa, Arizona, ostensibly to start rehabbing the ghost town her husband has been saddled with. The plan is to turn it into a retreat or a spa-town.

Within days, she finds herself adjusting to life on her own. The contractor she hires on the advice of the town's caretaker seems to hate her very presence and his employees, she discovers, change daily. They also don't
May 31, 2014 Linda rated it liked it
After reading Hunting Unicorns I decided to read another book by Bella pollen. Quite different, but I enjoyed this one too. I usually go for Murder and Crime and this in the end had a bit of a both but not in the way I usually find. This is more light hearted and focused on the main character rather the crimes being committed or who will solve them.
Dec 31, 2014 Kristine rated it really liked it
Having enjoyed Hunting Unicorns, I looked forward to reading this book. It is a much more serious story that deals with some difficult topics and feelings. Pollen juxtaposes the story of a woman escaping a comfortable life but unsatisfying marriage with the stories of illegal immigrants escaping poverty and hardship but leaving behind loved ones and treasured relationships. The exploration of relationships, feelings and loyalties is subtle but quite striking. Some of the themes are complex and c ...more
Jun 17, 2014 Annemariem rated it really liked it
Read this book on a sweltering day, on my roof terrace, sweat dripping off my brow. Absolutely the best way to read this one: swallow it whole on a hot hot sunny day.
Oct 03, 2012 Katherine rated it liked it
I'd actually like to give this 3.5 stars for the record, but I don't think that's possible. Anyway, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would after the first few chapters. I found the main character quite difficult to engage with initially, but found her much more likeable by the end of the book.

The story itself was interesting and compelling,raising questions about racism that are certainly valid outside the Arizona setting of the book. An enjoyable read that makes you think a little bit about
Lori Aberle
Aug 16, 2008 Lori Aberle rated it liked it
A very insightful book.
As an American living in England, it was interesting to read about the reverse. In this book, however, the protagonist has major family and self-discovery issues. Plus the moral dilemmas involved with living near the Mexican border.

I didn't like the fact that the children are very much on the peripheral and always cast into the care of others. Sure, there are a few touching moments, but the mothering left a lot to be desired.

I did find the ending to be VERY disappointing
Sep 08, 2012 Sarah rated it it was ok
I hate to say it, but I got super bored with this book. It seemed to drag on and on! The characters were fine, and it was a great story, but I felt like the author took too long to get to the point. Alice moves from London to a small border town in Arizona with her two young children. She is fleeing from her failing marriage, and is seeking to redefine herself and start a new life. The book deals heavily with immigration politics, and the hardships faced by the immigrants and the people who try ...more
Jan 18, 2015 Patti rated it really liked it
An interesting read. Just wish it had had a different!!
Paula Columbine
May 25, 2016 Paula Columbine rated it really liked it
Was a very good read that was let down by its ending.
Jan 21, 2012 Chenice rated it really liked it
I got this book at a local charity shop and it's been sitting on my bookshelf for over a year when suddenly I re-read the blurb and decided to give it a go... boy, I'm so glad I did.
This book was very well written in an easy prose. The plot and characters have the right complexity to keep the reader intrigued and in suspense.I love the setting and the comparisons between the UK and Mexico. I would definitely recommend this novel.
Sep 11, 2008 Jill rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008
This was as good as Hunting Unicorns, but more serious. Extremely well written, although I did not like the protagonist's children. I don't believe they were intended to be "children only a mother could love," but that was my reaction. However, this did not interfere with my enthusiastic enjoyment of the book. I also now have a deeper understanding of the humane elements of the illegal immigration issue.
Aug 18, 2010 Christianne rated it liked it
This book was weird. I had a *really* hard time getting into it, and almost gave up. I read another entire book and then went back to it only because I hadn't been to the library. Then it got really good. Maybe I was just slow to make some connections. I liked what it had to say about immigration and how it showed it's definitely not a black and white issue easily solved.
Nov 02, 2012 tinne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One word: unputdownable!! I thoroughly enjoyed this road novel; although it is not really a road novel, it certainly has the feel of it. The characters were intriguing and I could identify with Alice which made the story all the more appealing, of course. Which is why I regret the lame ending: I would have given this book 4 stars if it weren't for that.
Jun 26, 2008 Karen rated it liked it
Between 2 1/2 and 3 stars. Easy to read - good social commentary (about illegals crossing the border). Interestingly, this was a huge hit with critics from England (the author is from England), but it's all about the Southwest U.S. She's a decent writer and some of it was very good; but it bogged down in a few places.
Sep 13, 2009 Kathy added it
Another great summer read. Also living in AZ, and familiar w/the topography of southern AZ and it's concerns of immigrants in relation to a woman from the Orknay Islands and her childrens experiences in a totally differnt setting, makes great reading. She's can also be quite humerous; a quick entertaining read.
Jul 30, 2011 Rachel rated it really liked it
I thought this would be chicky lit, nothing special, but it captured my imagination -probably due to being well written and interestingly paced. Elements of Midnight Cactus reminded me of The Totilla Curtain.

I loved the relationship between Benjamin and the children.
Maryellen Wilson
Apr 12, 2010 Maryellen Wilson rated it it was amazing
Another goodie from the used bookshelf at the library -- awesome, now I have to go find this author's first two books! Set near Tucson -- makes me more than ever want to go to Arizona/New Mexico.
Oct 22, 2013 Catherine rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites
I so thoroughly enjoyed this book that I didn't want it to end. A really great story but also an eye-opener. It has both adventure and romance but not soppy chick-lit romance. A perfect balance.
Oct 15, 2008 Elizabeth rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
I never quite got the hang of this book. I liked reading about the immigration aspect much more than the inner workings of the main character. Giving stars is so hard sometimes. . .
Apr 08, 2011 Carol rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book. The main characters Alice Coleman is vibrant. She takes risks, makes mistakes, is honest, strong, vulnerable ... love it when her kids call her on things.
Jul 16, 2007 Alexa rated it liked it
Takes place on the Texas Mexico border and is a fictionalized tale about some of the issues surrounding coyotes and immigration. Interesting, not badly written, not much of an ending.
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Raised in New York , Bella Pollen is a writer and journalist who has contributed to a variety of publications, including American Vogue, The Spectator, The Times & The Sunday Telegraph.

Author of four previous novels, Midnight Cactus, Hunting Unicorns, Daydream Girl and All About Men, Pollen has tackled a broad spectrum of subjects from the decline of the British Aristocracy to the immigration
More about Bella Pollen...

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“Women only cut their hair in times of crisis... It's somethin' a woman always has the power to do, even when she loses control over everything else. Cuttin' hair is a cry for help.” 76 likes
“Children expect their mothers to love them, no matter what. Those who don't get this tend to feel cheated the rest of their lives.” 18 likes
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