The Cactus

The Cactus : A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick

3.69 (28,304 ratings by Goodreads)
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'I found myself laughing out loud at Susan's prickly character' Reese Witherspoon


People aren't sure what to make of Susan Green. Family and colleagues find her prickly and hard to understand - but Susan makes perfect sense to herself. Age 45, she thinks her life is perfect. She has a London flat which is ideal for one; a steady job that suits her passion for logic; and a personal arrangement providing cultural and other, more intimate, benefits.

Yet suddenly faced with the loss of her mother and, implausibly, with the possibility of becoming a mother herself, Susan's greatest fear is being realised: she is losing control. And things can only get worse ... at least in Susan's eyes.

This sparkling debut is a breath of fresh air with real heart and a powerful emotional punch. In Susan we find a character as exasperating and delightful as The Rosie Project's Don Tillman. An uncompromising feminist and a fierce fighter, it's a joy to watch her bloom.

'Quirky, poignant and extremely readable' Sunday Mirror
'Brilliantly comic' The Lady
'Wonderfully funny and astute' Red
'Funny, compelling, well-written...for fans of Marian Keyes who demand a bit of grit in their comic writing' Emerald Street
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Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 164 x 198 x 30mm | 270g
  • Two Roads
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1473660637
  • 9781473660632
  • 6,627

Review Text

The Cactus will be compared to Gail Honeyman's Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine...there is terrible poignancy Patricia Nicol The Sunday Times 20170114
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Review quote

I think everyone recognises a little bit of themselves in Susan -- Cari Rosen, author of The Secret Diary of a New Mum * Woman's Hour * One of the best books I've ever read, purely for the main character Susan - one of the best, most likeable, quirky, funny characters in any book I've ever read. I couldn't have been sadder for this book to end. I don't want to give anything away but if you're going through any change in your life, not really sure what you're doing or feel a bit lost, this is the book for you. * The Brighton Girl * Brilliantly acerbic . . . told with the wit and intelligence of a modern Jane Austen * Linda's Book Bag * A witty tale of a unique and unforgettable woman who is learning to love and be loved. It is a quirky, warm and entertaining read which certainly packs an emotional punch. * The Curious Ginger Cat * If you liked Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, then you'll love The Cactus by Sarah Haywood. Quirky, funny, compelling, you can't help but love, and cheer for, the main character Susan -- Amy Lysette, Deputy Features Editor at Closer and Bella A brilliant read * Snazzy Books * Sarah Haywood's charming, funny, poignant debut, The Cactus, is that rare gem, a story of womanhood and motherhood that is never reductive and seldom predictable * Yakima Herald * Haywood's novel is humorous and reveals the vulnerability of someone who believes she's above all that. It poses the question: do we ever really have control over anything in our lives? * British Weekly * Refreshingly different and often unpredictable, yet providing enough hope to keep the reader turning pages * Fredericksburg * An immense pleasure . . . I loved this novel very much * Mrs B's Book Reviews * Wise, witty and introspective The Cactus is a terrific debut that cannot fail to move you ... candid and warm * WHSmith Fresh Talent 2018 * Insightful, funny and incredibly entertaining. Haywood has created a character who is both irritating and intriguing in equal measure and I bloody loved her! * A Novel Girl * Gloriously funny and poignant, The Cactus introduces us to Susan Green, a 45-year-old woman who's seemingly in-control life begins to unravel in a very messy and, er, prickly way. You will love her. * InStyle AUS * Warm, uplifting, funny and bittersweet * Talking About My Shelf blog * I fell in love with the warm, feminist heart of this novel * Where the Books Go blog * Susan is a fantastic character, who you end up loving deeply by the end * Not Maud Gonne blog * Best cover. Kick-ass feminist, quirky story within. The definition of win-win. * Lady Sharon blog * Funny, touching and so beautifully written, with a twist that knocks you off your feet * Years of Reading Selfishly * A very compelling and enjoyable read * A Ticket to Everywhere blog * A very readable, often funny tale of how sometimes we think we have life under control, but really, that's just impossible; it's better to just go with the flow and actually enjoy ourselves along the way. A very useful life lesson. * Books on the 747 blog * A warm, witty portrait of a woman finally creating the family she deserves * Kirkus Reviews * I adored this book. LOVE LOVE LOVED it. * blog * A heartfelt and charming story of one woman's transition from a solitary, orderly existence to a messy life full of love. * Booklist * There's been a trend for 'difficult' female protagonists ... but set-in-her-ways Susan is difficult in her own unique way * Wear and Where * A joyful, funny and very insightful story. Incredibly well written and wonderfully imagined. Effortlessly entertaining with captivating observatoins. * Random Things Through My Letterbox * Heartfelt and funny, this big-hearted debut will delight fans of The Rosie Project. * Book Riot * twists and turns through human nature wonderfully. Like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Rosie Project ... a book you just want to read at any opportunity. * Kat Brown * Equal parts intelligent, funny and devastating, Haywood breathes life into an unlikely heroine in a bold, emotionally-charged debut. * Phaedra Patrick, author of THE CURIOUS CHARMS OF ARTHUR PEPPER * If, like me, you never stopped to think what a child born of The Rosie Project's Don Tillman and Bridget Jones might be like, there's one way to find out. Read Sarah Haywood's The Cactus. Meet Susan Green. She doesn't understand how funny she is, which is delicious. * Julia Claiborne Johnson, author of BE FRANK WITH ME * Susan Green is an independent and endearingly prickly woman whose life is spiralling out of control. You're gonna love her. * Marie Claire AUS * An original, engaging and totally believable character -- Graeme Simsion Hilarious and endearing ... anchored by the splendid character of Susan * Publisher's Weekly * The trend for "up lit" continues to make its mark, in titles including Sarah Haywood's debut The Cactus (rigid, lonely-but-doesn't-realise woman in her 40s falls pregnant and is forced to make connections; great cover) -- Alison Flood * The Bookseller * An ideal read for fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine * Closer * Read it if you loved Eleanor Oliphant * Best * This book is charming and easy to read, the perfect tonic to this absurdly grey February * The Pool * Fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine will love The Cactus ... wonderfully funny and astute -- Sarra Manning * Red * 'Funny, compelling, well-written...for fans of Marian Keyes who demand a bit of grit in their comic writing' * Emerald Street * A brilliantly comic novel about the flawed, controlling and utterly endearing Susan, who, while engaging in a family feud with her feckless brother, embarks unwittingly on a journey of personal enlightenment * The Lady * Quirky, poignant and extremely readable * Sunday Mirror * Legal battles, lapses of logic and the joys and fears of motherhood are explored in this astute, funny and moving novel of a woman learning how to let go * Daily Mail * The Cactus will be compared to Gail Honeyman's Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine...there is terrible poignancy -- Patricia Nicol * The Sunday Times *
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About Sarah Haywood

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 lives in Liverpool with her husband and two sons. Her debut novel, The Cactus, was a Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick, a Richard and Judy Book Club Pick, and was shortlisted for the Author's Club Best First Novel Award.
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Rating details

28,304 ratings
3.69 out of 5 stars
5 20% (5,546)
4 41% (11,607)
3 31% (8,725)
2 7% (1,901)
1 2% (525)
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