BY SARAH HAYWOOD
From time to time all need a light-hearted read, so the Den has chosen The Cactus for just that reason. If you enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine or The Rosie Project, then we are sure you will enjoy this entertaining and delightful story about a quirky misfit by Sarah Haywood.
Susan Green leads a seemingly perfect, well ordered life living in a small flat in South London working for the civil service. This is unexpectedly thrown into confusion and turmoil when her mother suddenly dies and she discovers she is pregnant aged 45. Whilst she tries to keep order and maintain routine into her ever unravelling life, it becomes clear she will have to adapt and emotionally let go.
Susan is exasperating in her 'controlling' traits, direct in her no-nonsense approach to life and has an immense dislike for people not so ordered who celebrate life, occasions and everyday frivolities. She particularly dislikes her younger brother Edward who she sees as a needy ‘waste of space’ who, she always believed, was disproportionally favoured by their mother. Required to communicate with him over their mother’s will only highlights this difficult relationship. Combined with her unanticipated pregnancy, Susan is forced to spend more time with family members including her over-bearing but well-intentioned Aunt Sylvia.
Susan learns to accept help from outsiders including her neighbour Kate and Edward’s friend Rob. As well as insights into her troubled upbringing, we begin to learn that this self-contained front is perhaps not as strong as it appears as self-doubt and emotion creep into her very core – and - just like her unforeseen pregnancy, so Susan starts to bloom!
A fun, warm and moving portrayal of life with a few unexpected twists along the way – the Den is sure you will find this a welcome respite during these isolating times.