Book Review: The Cactus by Sarah Haywood (A Richard & Judy Autumn Book Club read 2018)

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

Title: The Cactus

Author: Sarah Haywood
Publisher: Two Roads
Publication Date: 25 January 2018 (hardback and ebook)  4 October 2018 (paperback)

Instagram: @sarahjhaywood


It’s never too late to bloom… 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, as long as she avoids her feckless brother, Edward – a safe distance away in Birmingham. She has a London flat which is ideal for one; a 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.


Thank you to Netgalley and  Two Roads Books for providing a copy of The Cactus for review.

There is a great quote at the beginning of the book that really sums Susan up: “If it wasn’t for the fact that I have colleagues, office life would be bearable”. She knows her own mind and she doesn’t really understand (and you get the impression she has very little interest in understanding) other people. She wants to live a simple life, in her own little organised bubble, where she can keep people and feelings at bay.

Despite her best intentions to keep life uncomplicated, well-organised and solitary, things are thrown into disarray when Susan finds herself unexpectedly pregnant at the age of 45. Following which, her mother dies, her inheritance is in dispute and her ne-er-do-well brother, Edward, is being more infuriating that usual. Susan’s life is falling apart and she faces her greatest fear – losing control! She may be as prickly as her beloved cacti but not without good cause!

The author has concocted a colourful cast of characters who each play a distinct part in helping Susan to lower her defences and to accept that friendship can be a positive thing in her life. The author allows the reader to feel compassion for Susan, yet does not allow us to overlook her many flaws. She is certainly a frustrating protagonist, yet I found myself warming to her more and more as the tale progressed.

The Cactus is a character-driven story, a witty tale of an 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.

About the Author

Author 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 has an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University, and lives in Liverpool with her husband, two sons and two ginger cats.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s