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The Cactus

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An unforgettable love story that shows sometimes you have to embrace the unexpected.

Susan Green is like a cactus: you can't get too close. She likes things perfectly ordered and predictable. No surprises. But suddenly confronted with the loss of her mother and the unexpected news that she is about to become a mother herself, Susan’s greatest fear is realized. She is losing control.

Enter Rob, the dubious but well-meaning friend of her indolent brother. As Susan's due date draws near and her dismantled world falls further into a tailspin, Susan finds an unlikely ally in Rob. She might have a chance at finding real love and learning to love herself, if only she can figure out how to let go.

384 pages, Paperback

First published January 25, 2018

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About the author

Sarah Haywood

2 books645 followers
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.

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5 stars
10,480 (16%)
4 stars
24,452 (38%)
3 stars
21,492 (33%)
2 stars
5,426 (8%)
1 star
1,454 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,073 reviews
Profile Image for Emily.
90 reviews37 followers
June 28, 2019
Oh boy. I would have DNF’d this, but at a point it became personal and I wanted to be able to make a fully formed opinion of the book. The main character was not “prickly” or “quirky”; she was rude, condescending, often downright cruel. The backstory we got in the end in no way excused her behavior. The love interest made no sense. I hated the trope of “rejecting help, friendship and literally any kindness makes you strong and independent and this is what a true feminist is.”- no, it makes you insufferable. Maybe I’m just not the audience for this book, but honestly I’m shocked this was a Reese pick. The only positive thing I can say is the narrator for the audiobook was good.
Profile Image for Richard (on hiatus).
160 reviews176 followers
January 22, 2022
The audio version of The Cactus by Sarah Haywood has accompanied me on a number of my (socially distanced) lockdown walks. This seems quite fitting as Susan Green, the central figure of this novel, lives a largely socially distanced life.
Susan is in her mid forties, lives alone and is perfectly content living her well ordered life in her well ordered flat, dependent on no one.
She has a man friend that she finds convenient for rare social occasions, cultural events and ..... er ...... more intimate duties.
In Susan’s world she has complete control and has no time for the human frailties of those around her, she certainly doesn’t suffer fools gladly. The laws of efficiency and logic rule supreme.
She is also sharp tongued, stern and prickly, as the the name of the novel, not so subtly, suggests.
Susan’s calm, somewhat sterile life is suddenly shaken to its core. First a bereavement and then a personal situation that she never, ever expected to find herself in!
As life changing events start to crowd in on Susan’s well organised life, her resolve begins to fray.
She is thrust into the paths of ordinary humans with all their faults and weaknesses, causing great irritation …… but as the book progresses and she gets tangled in complicated, messy, real life situations, the everyday kindness and good nature of those around her begin to melt the ice.
We all know characters like Susan, those that find human interaction difficult and build a protective wall around themselves - so as a character she felt real. However, I found that living inside Susan’s head and seeing the world through her eyes for the duration of a novel was quite wearing at times.
There’s a lot of humour in The Cactus, some of it a little obvious, some, genuinely amusing, although more ‘smile’ than ‘laugh out loud’. The situations and outcomes also seemed a bit predictable. I soon began to see this as just a solid 3 star read.
As the book moved on though, I began to find myself becoming more attached to Susan and more drawn into her radically changing world.
I was really impressed with Katherine Manners the narrator. The book is set in the Midlands and her ‘brummy’ accent is wonderful and familiar (my mother was from Birmingham)
Overall I enjoyed this audiobook and would recommend it.
Profile Image for Danielle.
777 reviews365 followers
March 15, 2021
This one is difficult to review, because the story itself is pretty decent. 🤔 But I absolutely loathed the main character, Susan. 😬 She was a horrible person, to pretty much everyone. I’ve read other reviews comparing this character to ‘Eleanor Oliphant’... and I’m sorry, I just don’t see it. 🤷🏼‍♀️ Eleanor had high functioning Aspergers and Susan just had a large stick shoved somewhere. Story was like a 4... but Susan was a 0... so I feel generous giving this a 3. 😉
Profile Image for Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews.
1,864 reviews261 followers
April 24, 2018
4.5 stars
The Cactus is a book that comes with such a visually stunning cover, it is filled with flourishing cactus plants, set against a shimmering metallic background and I will admit that it won me over instantly. I also adore the cover tagline that adds further embellishment to this already spectacular cover. The Cactus is comes with the cover quote “It’s never too late to bloom”. Self acceptance and life changes at a mature age are the central themes that dominate The Cactus, the debut novel from Sarah Haywood. I tend to shy away from book comparisons, but this is a novel that echoes the work of the great Graeme Simsion of The Rosie Project (he endorsed the front cover). The Cactus also reminded me somewhat of another debut I loved last year, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. But, The Cactus is a novel that easily makes its own mark and it will worm its way into your heart.

The apt title of the book refers to the lead, Susan Green’s love for cactus plants, which she keeps in her work office. It could also be seen as a metaphor for the bristly nature of the heroine of the story. Susan Green is the peculiar protagonist who sits at the helm of The Cactus. When the novel opens, Susan is forty five years old, she is a fiercely independent woman, who is set in her ways. With a functional London flat, a long standing career and a relationship that has strict ground rules, Susan’s carefully ordered life is just as she wants it. Until one day, her world comes tumbling down. The death of her mother follows the news that Susan is also in the family way. The Cactus follows Susan as she grapples with getting her head around the prospect that she is to become a mother, which introduces her to whole new set of testing experiences. Life for Susan Green suddenly becomes very complicated.

It was an immense pleasure to be introduced to the writing of debut novelist Sarah Haywood. The Cactus is a novel that I can easily attest to enjoying from cover to cover. Much of my adoration for this novel comes from the lead, Susan Green. I will make it clear that some will not warm to Susan straight away, or not at all. Her spiky, feminist, forthright and often odd nature may get under the skin of some readers, but for me, I loved her from the start. Some reviewers have remarked on their inability to connect to such a cutting character, but persisting with Susan really does pay off. I enjoyed the metamorphosis of Susan very much.

I liked the mystery that surrounded Susan, which hits you smack bang in the face in the first pages of the novel. I liked how Susan was represented by Haywood as a puzzle or enigma. My money was on some kind of trauma from an accident (I was somewhat close in my estimations) and then I gravitated towards Susan sitting on the autism spectrum. Either way, I enjoyed the chance to get to know Susan. As the book progresses we learn more about Susan’s childhood and life as a young adult through the flashbacks that were included in this novel, as well as her interactions with the delightful characters in this novel. It becomes apparent that Susan is a very quirky woman set in her ways, but at times, her reasoning did make sense and even seemed rational. I admired her for sticking to the routines that made her feel safe. All the same, it was thrilling to see her break free from her restrictions and live in the moment in the latter stages of the book.

Supporting Susan is a fine cast of individuals who are all fully fleshed out characters. Protagonists such as Susan’s brother Edward, memories of her mother and father, aunt Sylvia, her twin cousins, neighbour Kate, friend with benefits Richard, university pal Brigid and finally Rob are all so full of life they burst out from the pages of this novel. As the book is solely narrated by Susan in first person, we get an excellent feel for these characters in the eyes of Susan. Her observations of the people in her life are sharp, nuanced and even a crack up at times! The Cactus is a book that I would definitely say is a character dominated novel. The narrative, which mainly revolves around the battle for Susan’s mother’s inheritance and Susan’s impending motherhood, shapes itself around the character set of this delightful novel.

In terms of themes, The Cactus works well to draw our attention to a number of issues. Within the novel, Haywood examines memories, upbringing, sibling rivalry, alcoholism, serious illness, grief, lost love, inheritance disputes, marital problems, single parenthood, adoption and mature age pregnancy. Each of these themes are coloured in perfectly by Haywood. I appreciated the lens in which Haywood puts on these topics, through the unusual guise of Susan Green, the lead.

On the whole I loved this novel, very much. There was only one small drawback. The book beats slowly. It took me much longer than usual to get through The Cactus but I did seem to savour every word. However, as a fast reader, this aspect of the book perplexed me! Despite my reservation about the slow pace, I took great joy in being a part of Susan’s rise. It really was a touching experience to watch her grow into her own and embrace all facets of her life. The final message I took from this book is that it is never too late to bloom, do not let life pass you by!

The Cactus is a simply wonderful debut. Sarah Haywood definitely has a new fan!

*I wish to thank Hachette Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Profile Image for Ali.
419 reviews
January 18, 2019
Ah well, somewhere between 2.5 and 3 stars.
And please, please, never ever spell "bin" instead of "been", it does not add any quirkiness to the speech, it just looks stupid.

I have to say this book did not live up to my expectations. From the blurb I expected some quirky, humorous, emotional story, very cleverly written, but it turned out to be pretty average on the enjoyment scale.

Susan is 45. She lives alone and lives her life whichever way suits her best. She is smart, in full of control of her life. She is a real "adult". No fooling around, no being silly. Straight to the point. Responsible. Serious.
Her mother dies leaving behind Susan's immature brother Edward and a will for the estate to sort, which, in Susan's opinion, unfairly favours Edward. Needless to say, the siblings aren't close.

Emotional knots to untangle, serious matters to consider.

I did not feel connected to Susan. Despite her business-like seriousness in every aspect of her life, she came across as terribly immature herself. Emotionally immature. All she does hides her feelings, she is afraid of opening up to life. And it is quite boring. And annoying.
Other characters left me rather indifferent as well. The book felt lacking sharp, perky humour, some blazing, something that would spark a reader's interest and have it burning till the very last sentence in the story. This was just ok.

I wonder though, is it an upcoming trend after Eleanor Oliphant to create a main character as a middle aged emotionally unavailable with childhood traumas?...
Profile Image for Jaye Berry.
1,333 reviews120 followers
June 14, 2019
Hours of my life I will never get back.

The Cactus is about a prickly woman named Susan who lives her life by the order she's created. When her mother dies, she ends up in an inheritance battle with her brother and also ends up getting closer to Rob, her brother's friend. If that wasn't enough, Susan finds herself pregnant and surprising everyone and even herself, she is keeping it.

While I hate (lol no) to drag a book down by lifting another, I will. Let me introduce you to my friend Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. Eleanor Oliphant is a complex and also messed up character. She is mentally ill which isn't an excuse for being mean but it helps to understand her. When she is rude or standoffish, it stems from how clueless she is at normal situations and when learning and becoming closer to people, she opens up and takes steps to becoming a better version of herself. Eleanor is a character that is while at first unlikable, is still likable and you (or at least I did) felt sorry for the hand life dealt her.

This book, this MC? Yeah... no. Susan is just a rude and socially inept woman. Sure, she isn't a supervillain who intends to be the way she is but I never liked her, at all. Her main goal in this book is to screw her brother over just because she doesn't like him and doesn't agree with her mother's will. Susan doesn't even WANT the house he was given, she just wants to make a point. Her bullshit excuse that she wants the money for her baby? Weak.

Susan is not a nice person and every interaction she had with people was terrible to read. She has no excuse or reason to be the way she is, she just happens to be mean and salty. This book tries to add depth to her and give a reason but nope, still so weak. Even when Susan is helping someone out, her POV is just how awful doing anything for anyone else was all while judging everyone. Her personality was trash and Susan can straight up choke.

If that wasn't bad enough, this is just a story of a woman "warming up" because she's having a baby + a man. I guess I blacked out when they were falling in love because they went from texting friends to "I love you move in with me I'll help you raise your baby" WAY too fast. The idea of how having a baby and meeting a man is what "saves her" from her oh so sad and lonely life is super gross and kind of offensive. The majority of the book is still her being an asshole too. It takes WAY too long for any sort of character development, if you could call the little there was that.

This entire book tries to pull off the quirky / sad vibe of Eleanor Oliphant but it just turns out to be a crappy off-brand Doritos called something like ~Crazy Triangles~. If this book taught me anything it was to value and love Eleanor Oliphant even more than I did before. Read that book instead and skip this one, you're welcome.
Profile Image for Emily B.
419 reviews411 followers
July 19, 2022
From reading the first few chapters It was very easy to predict the rest of the plot of this novel. However I still really loved the ending.

I was over halfway into reading it before I whole heartily started to enjoy it and fully warm to the characters. In the end I finished this book smiling.
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,153 reviews36.2k followers
January 24, 2021
Review also posted to blog: http://books-are-a-girls-best-friend....

What does it take to find your true self? Life-Changing Events.

Susan is a 45 (forty-five) year-old woman who is prickly as a pear or rather as prickly as cactus if I’m going to get technical. Friendly isn’t exactly her forte. Set in her ways, Susan prefers routine and likes to be alone. Having had to grow up quite fast, Susan became extremely independent at a very young age and has never had to rely on anyone to do anything. Difficult, stern, self-involved, yet quirky, Susan is an acquired taste if truth be told.

When news of her mother’s passing hits, Susan is shaken to the core. Especially when she receives word of her mother’s will.

Then she gets even more unsettling news, Susan discovers that she’s pregnant at the age of 45 (forty-five)! (Being that I’m in my mid to late 40’s myself, I found that news to be quite unnerving as well!). Fortunately for Susan, this unexpected pregnancy brings about a few life changes, including opening herself up to unexpected friendships, family, and a whole host of new emotions.

“The Cactus” by Sarah Haywood is a novel about self-discovery and exploration. About coming into one’s own. The truth is, that it’s never too late to change. Sometimes you just need a push or two in the right direction. This novel has been compared to “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” one of my favorite novels of all time. While I don’t think this novel compares (as truth be told, Susan is nothing like Eleanor and doesn’t hold a candle to her). In my opinion, this novel is something different altogether and should stand on its own.

An enjoyable novel with some truly lovable characters, including Aunty Sylvia, Susan’s neighbor Kate, and most importantly, Rob, whose interactions with Susan were sublime. 3.5 Stars

Thank you to my local library for loaning me a copy of this audiobook, which was narrated by Katherine Manners.

Published on Goodreads and Twitter on 1.23.21.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,393 reviews7,249 followers
October 17, 2019
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

After seeing a couple of low-ratings from my Goodreads’ friends I opted to put The Cactus on the backburner and made my request to the library when I was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down the wait list – despite the fact that . . . . .

God am I a sucker for famous people telling me what to read.

I think the main issue people have with this book (and soooooooo many others that are using #ifyoulikedeleanoroliphant as their main selling feature), is that the reason books like Eleanor Oliphant fly off the shelves and receive such an enormous response from the book community is they stand out because THEY ARE DIFFERENT. It’s great to be the first - just ask Gillian Flynn and her Gone Girl. The timing of this release after eleventy thousand other Eleanors had already come out probably didn’t help. And while there are similarities – mainly in the form of . . . .

The two characters aren’t really all that much alike. While “the spectrum” can be pinpointed in a lot of Eleanor-compared stories, in this case Susan’s personality was much more easily blamed on nurture rather than nature. The main point of the story is regarding Susan’s plan to fight for her half of the inheritance her mother (per the aforementioned issues) left to her brother upon her death. Because of her upbringing, Susan doesn’t have much time for interpersonal relationships, her sense of humor is dry and she has a pretty matter-of-fact way of looking at things. Basically . . . . .

Exceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeept for the whoopsie baby she just so happens to find herself pregnant with. Good lord, if I found out at 45 I was going to have an accidental baby????

That right there is the stuff of nightmares.

Bottom line, if you don’t like Susan’s voice, you won’t like this book. I kind of loved her. And of course all the good feely feels end up coming out and the ending is just great and I am a big ol’ sap deep down despite having a grizzly bear exterior so 4 Stars it is.

P.S. Am I the only one who sees Tori Spelling every time I look at the thumbnail of this cover????
Profile Image for Kate Olson.
2,085 reviews727 followers
August 16, 2018
🌵 🎧 Yay for great audiobooks with fabulous narrators with ACCENTS! British, in this case.

THE CACTUS was my latest listen and it was a great one 💗 I adore quirky characters and this one has that PLUS family drama PLUS love ~ highly recommend to fans of “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman and “Something Like Happy” by Eva Woods 😊 Both of those are excellent on audio as well, BTW!
Profile Image for Nilguen.
168 reviews54 followers
January 24, 2023
Splendid read written in impeccable British-English sprinkled with that sweet and dry British humour! I LOVE IT!

Meet the protagonist of the sweeping story, Susan Green aka Suze, a 45-years old pregnant single.
Every aspect of her life is marked by her judgmental, black or white thought pattern. There is certainly no room for irrationality in her life. Well, except for the fact that life has its own plans that she cannot control. 🤙🙃

Suze has single-handedly created the ideal life for herself in London. Obviously, her pregnancy is a big surprise. It is the result of her longterm ‚arrangement‘ with Richard, who is characterwise pretty much the male copy of Suze.

Thinking that both of these characters will find a common denominator due to their similarities and their baby? WRONG! As they say, the best is yet to come 💃🏻🥰❤️🍀!

Susan’s life gets out of control when her mother, Patricia Green, passes away. Patricia left a will that favours Edward, Susan’s pub-loving, good-for-nothing-brother. Susan claims the will is invalid, because her mother suffered from dementia and she would impossibly treat her two children unequally, would she?

Suze‘s aunt, ‚silly Sylvia’, is the one who will drop the bombshell that unearths some tricky matters in Suze’s life! 💣🍾
Sylvia has become my favourite character. At first sight she seems self-obsessed and vain. But she is so vulnerable behind the curtains.

There is another twist in the track as Suze starts mingling with Rob, Edwards’s close friend. Are they spying out on each other for the court case or is there something else cooking?

Finally, the morale of the story is whether you can cut off your family ties or whether you choose to foster the family tree with the soil, water and light that it needs to grow stronger.

Btw: Why cactus as the title? Suze loves cacti, and Rob knows how to grow them…Suze is also a bit of a cactus herself - hard shell, soft core. You get my point…😉

IG @nilguen_reads
Profile Image for Linaria.
696 reviews43 followers
June 19, 2019
How are people comparing The Cactus to my girl Eleanor Oliphant? Eleanor was heart-warming, but sad, and dealt with a woman who had suffered real trauma. The Cactus features a protagonist who is equally distant and curt but seems to have a whole less reason to be such a jerk to everyone around her. I have no idea how people are praising her relationship with Rob because they spend the first half of the book barely speaking, and when they do, it's to pass messages to or from her brother. Despite the adorable cover, this book is trying WAY too hard to be Eleanor Oliphant, and it captures absolutely none of the magic.
Profile Image for Ruthy lavin.
421 reviews
February 22, 2019
Oh my word, this book is bloody brilliantl!!!!
It starts off a bit like Bridget Jones, and ends a bit like Four weddings - someone please adapt it into a film!!!
I didn’t think anything could top Eleanor Oliphant for me because I really, really loved that book and will definitely read it again someday - but this? It’s as good if not better.
Witty in that inimitable British way, with undertones of sadness and comedy, it’s just a literary triumph.
I’m always a reluctant 5 star rater, but this just could not be awarded anything less.
Profile Image for Regina.
1,136 reviews2,678 followers
June 23, 2019
4.5 stars. I really enjoyed this and found myself smiling often. The cover blurb that fans of “Elinor Oliphant” will enjoy it is totally accurate, but I think this main character and story are much more likable. Though the story of a 45yo woman who finds herself pregnant was a little tough for me personally, I still rooted for her and a happy outcome.
Profile Image for Holly.
193 reviews64 followers
August 25, 2019
3.5 stars rounded up.

I was a little disappointed by The Cactus and cannot really understand the comparisons with Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Don Tillman from The Rosie Project. In fact, I think the comparisons are way off for the simple reason that Eleanor and Don were both likable from the start as well as funny. The protagonist in The Cactus is not someone I would want to get to know and that made it difficult for me to get through the book. Think of a person who is like a cactus. Need I say more?

Susan is 45 and pregnant. She has just lost her mother and dislikes her brother. She likes to live a highly organized life and be in control. But she’s having a baby and won’t be able to be completely in charge anymore.

I like to know exactly what’s going to be happening and precisely when it will happen. That way you can guard yourself against unwelcome surprises and ensure that everything proceeds satisfactorily.

I’ve single-handedly created the ideal life for myself in London. I have a home that is adequate to my current needs, a job that is appropriate to my skills and easy access to cultural stimulation. Except for my working hours, I have control over every aspect of my existence.

The Cactus is a story of transformation. Susan prefers her own company and believes that others will let you down in the end.

I could have suggested that he walk the fifteen paces from his own desk to mine, but I don’t like to encourage that sort of thing.

Recent events had proved what I’d known all along; other people couldn’t be trusted.

Susan also believes that she doesn’t need a husband or a man for any reason, including raising her child. She can do it all herself.

I’ve never, ever had any desire to share my life with anyone. I enjoy my own company, I value my independence, I like doing things my way. I don’t want some great lumbering man messing up my house and getting under my feet.

I find, though, that men invariably expect more than I’m prepared to give. Some want
romantic love, a meeting of minds, a sharing of thoughts and feelings; others want veneration, deference, subservience. I’m not cut out for any of that kind of nonsense...

Through the course of The Cactus, Susan’s world grows, her life becomes fuller and she becomes better able to handle uncertainty. Eventually she does become more likable when the reader gets to know her better.

I’m not ruling anything in or anything out; I’m going to wait and see. The world seems bigger, louder and more colorful than it did a few weeks ago, a few days ago. At the moment, I’m not entirely sure who I am in relation to it. But that’s fine.

The writing is witty and clever with laugh out loud moments sprinkled throughout the story.

I remember you saying families were like prisons but without the hope of a release date.

Dealing with members of the opposite sex isn’t that dissimilar from training a dog; you need to be firm and persistent.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I have colleagues, office life would be bearable.

Profile Image for Caro (Bookaria).
583 reviews18.4k followers
July 7, 2019
An unconventional protagonist facing life-changing events. This was a quick and enjoyable read. The main character has a particular and structured personality which I could relate to (a bit) and which made me smile.

I first heard about this book when it was selected for RW's book club. In the past, she has chosen great titles for discussion and for this reason I gave it a try. The audiobook had a great narrator and the book has a beautiful cover.

It was lighthearted and funny, I recommend it to readers who enjoy contemporary fiction and also to those who enjoy "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine" and "The Rosie Project".  
Profile Image for Laura.
734 reviews265 followers
August 8, 2019
This is an absolutely beautiful book. A real treat, from start to finish. Can't believe it's the author's first novel.

I have become a real fan of books that feature quirky main characters. Susan, the protagonist, is in her mid-40s. She is intelligent, strong-willed and independent. She enjoys her own company and doesn't really need friends or even close family relationships. Everything changes when something happens that will change her life forever. (It is described in the book description but wasn't spelled out from the beginning of the book, so I won't disclose it.) Susan's world, which she had thought she had under close control, starts to unravel and this is the story of how she comes to cope with it all.

This is about family, and community, and friendship, and love. Love of all kinds, and for all reasons. It is about grief and loneliness (and not-so-loneliness). It is about being a mother and about being a daughter and a sister and a lover and a friend. The main character's brother reminds me so much of a brother of mine who is the only sibling I have of whom I'm not fond, especially lately. I wasn't sure if the timing was right for me for this book, but it was perfect.

I highly recommend this to anyone who is intrigued by the book description, enjoys wry humor, and quirky characters. I was drawn in by the first page and thoroughly enjoyed every page of this book. Also, it begs for a sequel and I would love to read that as well!

The audiobook was also terrific. Absolutely perfect. Really, a six-star book and audio. You will laugh, and maybe toward the end, you will cry too, as I did. I just loved it. I hope you will too. ❤️
Profile Image for Olha.
145 reviews73 followers
July 7, 2021
Це було добре.
Цікаво, чим завершиться, читалось легко і героїня викликала співчуття.
Але любові не склалось і занадто передбачуване закінчення. Люблю, коли автору/авторці вдається мене здивувати. Тут було ясно до чого йде з самого початку. Я все сподівалась на щось таке УХ, але ні.
Але не провал)) щоб відпочити - те, що треба 🙌🏻
Profile Image for Lilys.Buchwelt.
236 reviews81 followers
May 24, 2018

Die Charaktere in diesem Buch sind alle glaubhaft und liebevoll gestaltet.
Vor allem mit Susan konnte ich mich vom ersten Augenblick an identifizieren: ich mag auch keine Menschen. Ich mag keine Überraschungen oder plötzliche Ereignisse. Ich habe gerne Struktur in meinem Leben und die Kontrolle. Wenn also irgendetwas diese Struktur stört oder gar kaputt macht bin ich zumindest erstmal mit der Situation überfordert. (Das hat natürlich alles seine Gründe, auf die ich hier jedoch nicht näher eingehen möchte.) So konnte ich Susan sehr gut verstehen. Auch ihre Handlungen konnte ich sehr gut nachvollziehen, denn ich hätte genauso gehandelt. 
Das Buch ist aus der Sicht von Susan geschrieben, was dem Leser ihre Gedanken und Gefühle sehr nahe bringt. Dadurch wird vielleicht auch Lesern, die völlig anders sind als Susan, ermöglicht, sie und ihre Welt zu verstehen.

Der Schreibstil ist flüssig und lässt sich sehr gut lesen. Wäre die Schrift nicht so klein gewesen, hätte ich das Buch vermutlich an einem oder zwei Abenden durchgesuchtet. Wem es also mit kleiner Schrift geht wie mir, sollte vielleicht lieber zur E-Book Variante* greifen und die Schrift entsprechend vergrößern.

Die Story hat mich sehr berührt. Obwohl Susan keine Emotionen mag, fand ich die Geschichte sehr emotional. Sie hat mich immer wieder an Situationen aus meinem eigenen Leben erinnert und ich habe mich mehrmals dabei ertappt, wie ich beim Lesen genickt und "Ja" oder "hätte ich auch so gemacht" gesagt habe.

Falls irgendwen interessiert, wie ich ticke, der sollte dieses Buch lesen xD
Ansonsten ist dieses Buch etwas für jeden, der eine etwas andere aber trotzdem besondere und emotionale Geschichte lesen möchte.
Profile Image for Julie Parks.
230 reviews64 followers
November 3, 2018
This book in the definition of English humor. It should even come with a warning: Don't read it on a rainy morning!

I loved every chapter. But the character can get to be a bit too bitter at times. She's a new kind of lol.

Thank you NetGalley for the chance to read this in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Fatma Al Zahraa Yehia.
399 reviews408 followers
June 21, 2022
المراجعة باللغة العربية في النصف الثاني....

ملحوظة هامشية: وقعت في يدي هذا العام مجموعة من الروايات الاجنبية التي تتخطى بطلتها الرئيسية سن الأربعون مثل تلك القصة، وهنا البطلة في الخامسة والأربعين. وأشعر بالحسد الحقيقي وانا أراهن يقعن في الحب وينظر الرجال لهن كنساء مرغوبات فيهن. على خلاف مجتمعنا الذي يرى أن المرأة تنتهي صلاحيتها كامرأة بعد الثلاثين على الأكثر. مجرد ملاحظة

A story that could easily grab you from its first pages till you finish it. The author presents an interesting character "Susan" who can't easily appeal to the reader with her blunt, stand-offish, and dry personality. but one can't help but admire her independence and her courage to carry on avoiding close or intimate relationships that might disturb her ordered life.

I didn't find the overall plot or characters' actions logical to me. it wasn't convincing at all that a relationship could go on for 15 years without any kind of progress or retreat like the one that Susan had with Richard. I didn't buy either being Rob fell in love with a person like Susan who was rudely and harshly pushing him away like that. What annoyed me most was the truth about Susan's biological family which was just unnecessary Bollywood drama.

I wouldn't have kept reading if it wasn't for the story's fast-paced flow and the characters' overall light vibe. I recommend it as entertaining and enjoyable reading.

تجسد الشخصية الرئيسية "سوزان" المثال الصارم والصادق للمرأة المستقلة. فهى لم تكتف باستقلالها المادي واستغناءها عن أي دعم خارجي، بل تخلت تماما عن اقامة أي نوع من العلاقات العائلية أو الاجتماعية أو العاطفية. كانت ترى أن القرب من الناس هو خسارة لسلام عالمها المنظم الهادىء. يعني، يمكننا وصفها بلغتنا الدارجة امرأة "برّاوية".
تحدث الكثير من التغيرات التي تدخل على عالمها، مما يجبرها أن "تتنازل" عن شروط حياتها الصارمة. ونرى كيف ستُجبر بالوقت على أن "تفتح" قلبها الذي اغلقته طوال حياتها على العالم من حولها.

في الواقع اعجبت بشخصية سوزان، وتمنيت أن أكون مثلها اتحكم بصرامة في قلبي. ومن وجهة نظري صرامتها الشديدة لم تؤذ أي شخص. فهى لم تطلب ما هو زيادة عن حقها في أي شىء من أي كان. كانت شديدة الوضوح والصراحة مع نفسها ومع الأخرين، ولم تسع الا لطلب ما احتاجته.
المشكلة هنا أن الحياة لا تسير وفقا لأمزجتنا، ومخططاتنا الدقيقة تلُقي بها رياح القدر ساخرة منا. وهذا ما سيحدث مع سوزان.

القصة من النوع الخفيف المسلي. فقد كانت براعة المؤلفة في انها استطاعت صنع شخصيات لطيفة لا تبدي اكتراثا كبيرا بالحياة مما خلق تناقضا مضحكا مع شخصية سوزان الصارمة. ولكنك لن تجد أي شىء منطقي في احداث القصة. فقط احداث شيقة ربطت بينها المؤلفة بمهارة، ولكن بدون أي تطور منطقي أو معقول للشخصيات.
Profile Image for Anne.
2,040 reviews1,028 followers
January 29, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Sonja Arlow.
1,063 reviews7 followers
September 21, 2019
3.5 stars

The Cactus is such an aptly named title as it describes the narrator so well. A bit prickly, adapted to repel rather than attract but with a little patience you may just watch her bloom.

This is one of the few books that I can genuinely recommend for readers who also loved Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fineas the two books have the same vibe. But be warned, Susan is not immediately likable however she grew on me so much that I actually hope there will be a sequel.

Susan is 45, with a meticulously ordered life she created for herself. Looking at the way others seem to choose to live in chaos is beyond her. Take her neighbour with those two annoying children and a house always a mess, or her brother leeching off her mother.

Susan has her life so well plotted out that when things start to go off the beaten path, she is determined not to lose control.

I found the issues raised in the book interesting and entertaining but its the audio narrator that influenced my rating the most. I can highly recommend the book in this format.
Profile Image for Julie.
1,860 reviews38 followers
October 4, 2019
I agree with others that this is a read alike to "Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine" by Gail Honeyman. Both are great reads. It was truly interesting to learn how each sibling viewed and experienced their parents differently and how it contributed to the antagonism between them. The following quotes are from a conversation as brother and sister argue over what type of funeral gathering they should have for their Mum:
Sister: "Mum was teetotal she would have been horrified to think her wake would be in a pub!"
Brother: "She wouldn't have wanted china teacups and polite conversation."
Sister: "She wasn't a pint of beer and a knees up kind of woman."
Throughout the book the siblings work out their relationship going forward after the loss of both parents. It makes for an absorbing read that caused me to reflect on my own sibling relationships. The dialogue is great and the narrator, Catherine Manners, does a wonderful job at voicing each of the characters. Auntie Sylvia was a standout character for me. She was fun and frilly and I loved her gentle kindness and thoughtfulness in her treatment of others. The Birmingham (Brum) accent of the main character made me feel nostalgic.
Profile Image for Lisa Wolf.
1,591 reviews170 followers
December 10, 2019
3.5 stars. I usually round up on Goodreads, but this really doesn't feel like a 4-star read to me.

I borrowed the audiobook of The Cactus from my library on a whim, based on its being available and also being a Reese's Book Club pick (because I do seem to like most of their selections). This was an enjoyable, diverting story, although I'm not sure that I loved it. Susan is set in her ways, negating emotion at every turn, always aiming for efficiency and neatness. When her life turns upside down, she's forced to start letting others in, and learns some hard truths about her own childhood. 

The cactus metaphor is a little heavy-handed, in my humble opinion. We get it: Susan is prickly, defensive, making sure others don't get too close... but with proper attention and nurturing, she's still capable of flowering. Geez.

I mostly enjoyed Susan's brand of no-nonsense bossiness and solitude, although some of her behaviors are a bit extreme. The love story didn't grab me -- I didn't feel convinced by the relationship and its development. I was much more interested in Susan's family history and its dysfunctions, and how her childhood experiences slowly turned her into the woman she'd become.

The Cactus is a fairly light read, and I enjoyed it overall, but I wouldn't put it at the top of my priority recommendations.
Profile Image for Milica Stojiljkovic.
329 reviews194 followers
March 26, 2020
Iskreno, nisam očekivala da mi se ova knjiga toliko dopadne, čak ni kada sam počela da je čitam, ali me je nešto privlačilo ka njoj. Radi se o Suzan Grin koja je prilično samostalna i organizovana. Međutim, već na samom početku saznajemo da joj je umrla majka, kao i to da je ona sama trudna. Ne želi partnera, ne želi dete. Hladna je i racionalna, ali usled trudnoće koja joj lagano menja telo i njenog bezobraznog brata sa kojim je u lošim odnosima, ona započinje borbu, čije rezultate ni ne može da pretpostavi. Ova knjiga naizgled deluje tako: jednostavno, statično i prosečno, kao i sama junakinja, ali se do kraja razvija u jednu predivnu priču koja će retko koga ostaviti ravnodušnim. Pročitala sam je u jednom danu, nisam je ispustila. Nisam uspela da joj nađem nijednu manu, nekako je tako lepo upakovana. Moram da pohvalim i korice koje su p r e l e p e, kao i da napomenem da se nadam da će autorka Sara Hejvud da izda uskoro taj novi roman na kome radi, a da će ga Laguna brzo prevesti.
Profile Image for Antoinette.
716 reviews32 followers
December 29, 2019
I must admit I have an affinity for unusual characters. Susan Green is 45 years old and is a very straight laced, humourless woman. She is very organized, always early and tells it like it is. She comes off as an “ice queen”. But much is about to change in Susan’s life- will she be able to adjust and carry on?
I liked Susan despite her faults. On the cover of the book it states “ It’s Never Too Late To Bloom.” We follow Susan on her journey- I pretty well figured out where her journey would lead, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
The message here for me is that we can all change, despite long suffered habits and people’s perceptions.

An enjoyable read!! If you do plan to read this one, skip the inside blurb- it gives too much away- one of my pet peeves for sure..
Profile Image for Daria.
372 reviews185 followers
June 14, 2022
у центрі сюжету дуже неординарна жінка С'юзен, якій подобається раціональність, дотримання правил і кактуси. вона обмежує власні емоції та намагається відмежуватися від емоцій інших. от тільки їй 45, вона вагітна від чоловіка за якого не збирається заміж, а її мати, померши, лишила заповіт на користь непутящого брата, і С'юзен підозрює, що тут щось нечисто. їй треба вирішити питання до народження дитини, аби не втратити контроль.

я навіть і не чекала, що мені так сподобається ця книжка, я зможу проникнутися історією героїні та щиро співчуватиму їй. виникали асоціації до книги "З Елеанор Оліфант усе гаразд", яку теж люблю.
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