26th March 2018
Publishers Weekly Review
A cactus is the perfect metaphor for Haywood’s hilarious and endearing debut about a prickly woman who thrives no matter her environment. Londoner Susan Green is a controlling single 45-year-old woman who is successful in both her professional life as a civil service worker and in her personal life with formally scheduled liaisons with Richard, a similarly organized and…
6th March 2018
Unexpectedly pregnant at age 45, Susan Green finds her perfectly organized life turning upside down. And then her mother dies, leaving the family house to Susan’s ne’er-do-well brother, Edward, for as long as he wants to live in it….
16th February 2018
The Pool, This week we're reading ...
This book is being marketed as The Rosie Project of 2018 – and it’s easy to see why. The story revolves around Susan, a single woman in her 40s who has every element of her life completely under control – she owns her one bedroom flat, she has a job she excels at and a very business-like romantic relationship. But when her mother dies and she finds out she might…
8th February 2018
Daily Mail, Contemporary Fiction Review
Susan Green appears as prickly as her favourite plant, the cactus. Buttoned-up and precise, she’s a stickler for obeying the rules and making sure that everyone else does too; but underneath it all is ‘the terrifying sensation that my carefully constructed life in London is simply the dream of an unhappy girl, a dream from which I am about to be woken’…
7th February 2018
Metro, GSOH? If you must ... My opposite number theory
WE’RE on the eve of my 30th birthday and my partner, Simon, has organised a surprise weekend away. We’re driving out of the city towards the airport. Ever since we met five years earlier, I’ve been casually remarking that I’ve never been to Paris, so it doesn’t take Miss Marple to work out where we’re going. I’ve crammed my suitcase with quirky cotton dresses and sandals suited to …
22nd January 2018
Emerald Street, Books worth your time this week
‘Funny, compelling, well-written…for fans of Marian Keyes who demand a bit of grit in their comic writing’
Red, Dazzling Debuts, February 2018
‘Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine will love The Cactus, about prickly Susan Green who, at 45, loses her mother and discovers she’s pregnant. Susan is losing control of the safe, rigid life she’s built for herself but when she lets other people grow close to her, she begins to bloom in this wonderfully funny and astute novel.’
Woman & Home, This is Our Moment (interviewed by Stephanie Clarkson),
‘It doesn’t matter how long you’ve harboured a longing to achieve something, it’s never too late to realise that dream. In fact, the strapline on my debut novel The Cactus is “It’s never too late to bloom” and that applies equally to ambition.
I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. Aged nine, I set up a club with my friends. We’d write a story each week. Mine had titles like “A Bunch of Violets” and were mainly about princesses. I always felt I’d be a writer, but for years I naively thought that it would happen just because I wanted it so much, without having any plan how I was going to achieve it.
When it came to a career I chose law – seduced by the idea I’d be fighting for truth and justice – and became a solicitor, which wasn’t for me. The only writing I did in those days was drafting reports. The thing about ambition, however, is that it can smoulder beneath the surface for many years before the flames break out. The ambition to write a book was still there and, when it came to returning to work after children, I told myself “it’s now or never”. I started with an Open University course and, encouraged by my tutor and the fact I’d achieved a distinction, applied for an MA at Manchester Metropolitan University. Completing a novel was a requirement of that course, which I felt was the impetus I needed.
If you have an ambition, my advice would be to tune out the voices that say “you can’t do it”. I heard it would be virtually impossible to get an agent and even if I did, it wouldn’t guarantee a publishing deal. I was warned to expect multiple rejection letters. In fact, the first agent I approached replied within days to say they’d like to see my manuscript.
My experience isn’t typical and getting a novel written and published isn’t simple – it involves a lot of hard work, dedication and focus. There’s also an element of luck and of timing involved, too, but that doesn’t make getting published an impossible dream. It’s absolutely an achievable ambition at any life stage.
I want to see myself as a novelist, rather than a lawyer who’s written a book. I’ve achieved one goal, now I need to build on my success. I’m working on book two.’
Brides, Your Honeymoon (Read) Starts Here!
‘Susan is in control of everything – until one day she isn’t. A tender book about leaving your comfort zone.’
14 January 2018
The Sunday Times, Popular Fiction Roundup
‘The Cactus, a debut by Sarah Haywood (Two Roads £14.99), will be compared to Gail Honeyman’s 2017 hit, the appealingly eccentric Eleanor Oliphant Is Absolutely Fine. Like Eleanor, Susan Green is an intelligent but socially awkward woman who has built routines to hide her loneliness — she is a prickly cactus as the title suggests. Her mother dies just as Susan discovers, aged 45, that she is accidentally pregnant.
Both situations throw her into social interaction. The book reads like a first novel, with a writer testing both voice and structure, but in the moments when Susan reflects on the trauma of a childhood blighted by a parent’s alcoholism, there is terrible poignancy.’