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By Sarah Haywood
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The Cactus was the perfect title for this novel. Susan Green is certainly a prickly character. She’s regimented, intolerant, a stickler for routine, and is a no-nonsense kind of lady. To be honest, when I first began reading this novel, I had a difficult time trying to connect with her. With that being said, she did intrigue me, and I was hell-bent on finding some way, some characteristic that would endear me to her.
Despite my lack of a connection to Susan, I was certainly interested in her story enough that it propelled me forward. I kept trying to figure out what her deal was. I wanted to know what had happened in her life that made her the way she was. She wasn’t what I would call a “likable” character. While she found herself to be a well-mannered woman, she was actually rather rude, condescending, and abrupt. I kept going back and forth between my feelings of disdain for her and my utter curiosity as to what made her tick.
She was a solitary woman who preferred her own company to the company of others. She didn’t have a good or close relationship with the members of her family, in fact, she had a great deal of animosity toward her brother, and her mother’s passing and the contents of her will only exacerbated the friction of their relationship. The lengths that they went to in order to get what they figured they rightly deserved was pretty astounding.
When she discovers that she is pregnant at the age of forty-five, she’s not only surprised at the news, but she’s also surprised that she actually wants to keep it. She never planned on becoming a parent, just as she never really wanted to have a meaningful relationship with a man. If you don’t get close to people, you can’t get hurt. Oh, Susan! There did end up being a touch of romance in The Cactus, though. Was it swoony and romantic? Not really. It was awkward and wooden, just like Susan’s personality. I certainly wasn’t expecting her to fall head-over-heels or madly in love.
Sarah Haywood has written an interesting novel about a woman who is unlike any that I have read before. Did I ever find her a tad bit endearing? Not really. Did I feel anything toward her at all? Yes, I did. Was I intrigued by the whole story. Absolutely. The twists that were revealed in the later chapters made it that much more enjoyable. Did she warm up at all by the end of the novel? My lips are sealed.