Midnight Cactus
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Midnight Cactus

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  195 ratings  ·  43 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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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 have...so I have already imagined an alternate en...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...more
Freda Lightfoot
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
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
Lori Aberle
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...more
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Maryellen Wilson
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.
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.
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. . .
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.
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.
I read this after enjoying Bella Pollen's hunting unicorns, and was not dissapointed to read another book by the same authour and to not know what was coming next.
An engrossing story of people caught up in efforts to escape from their past as they attempt to forge a new life. a vivid portrait of the immigrant story today.
I'm not sure about "amazing", but I really enjoyed this book, with a surprise mention of friends in the acknowledgments. A real southwest novel.
Our 18th book. Ginny picked it. Ginny, Elizabeth, Rachel, Darcie, Kaitlyn, Kirsten and Mary met at Coho in Redmond on September 10, 2008.
Lisa Beattie
Pretty easy going read, with a good dollop of romance and wistfullness thrown in. Bit slow to start off with but soon speeds up.
I loved this book. Yes, more on the fictitious side than I care to believe, but a quick and entertaining read.
Enlightening regarding the border politics, but a letdown in terms of character development.
Shawna Prather
Quick read. About a wife and mom who kinda takes a break from everything and heads out west.
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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
More about Bella Pollen...
The Summer of the Bear Hunting Unicorns Daydream Girl All about Men B Movies, Blue Love

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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.” 57 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.” 17 likes
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