"One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it brings."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hothouse Flower - A book review

I was asked by TLC book tours to do a book review for the novel "Hothouse Flower" by Margot Berwin.  Since reading when you have kids is often hard to find time for, I was happy to have a good excuse to make time for myself to read a book.  Plus, we've had lots of rain making it the perfect weather to read.

Hothouse Flower is about a thirty-two year old advertising copywriter who lives in New York City named Lila Nova.  Recently divorced she seems to want to avoid anything that needs her such as pets, plants or people.  Lila doesn't get much enjoyment from her career in advertising either other than her friendship with a co worker.  Her life starts to change though when she is convinced to buy a tropical plant by a plant seller at a local green market.  As her plant collection grows so does her interest in the man selling them, she seems to return to the market more out of interest in him than the plants.  At the same time she meets another intriguing man who owns a laundromat.  This is not a regular laundromat though, the floors are carpeted in moss and people come to see the unusual collection of plants hanging throughout it.  Inside there is a secret room which holds the 9 plants of desire.  Armand, the owner, tests Lila with things like having her try to root a finicky fire fern to see if she can handle seeing the rest of the plants.  The story says that if you are in a room with the 9 plants of desire you can have anything you want.  The book then follows her adventures in the Yucatan in finding the 9 plants of desire after they are stolen from the laundromat.
The main character Lila is likable enough, she seems to be searching for something to fulfill her empty life even though she claims to not want any responsibility.  I think a lot of people could probably relate to someone like her.  Another main character, Armand, is full of unusual stories and the meanings behind many of the plants he shows Lila.  I didn't really like the way it felt that most of the male characters used Lila and her emptiness to get what they wanted.
Since my reading time is often broken up into short time periods any book that is easy to get back into after not having read it for a couple of days is a plus.  This novel was definitely that type of book.  There was lots of interesting information about the 9 plants of desire, as well as other tropical plants.  But, I have to admit that because so much of what happens in the book is improbable I'm not sure if how much of the information on the plants is fact or if it's just there for part of the story.  
It's hard for me to fairly review a book that is just not the genre I would normally read.  I enjoy more realistic stories where I feel I'm learning something about a period of time or a place.  This book is more far fetched in it's storyline.  I'm sure this book would be appealing to many other people, in fact I read that it is being made into a movie, it just wasn't quite my style. 
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  1. Dear Catherine, From what I read in your review, I am not sure that I should warm to this book. I get the impression that the characters are somewhat lacking in credibility and that, for me, would be thend of my interest. It sounds an improbable basis for a film...we shall see!!

  2. Catherine, I just pray that I get a good childrens book. I am reading one now that I am having a hard time getting through (chapter book). It is so difficult to be nice and still honest.


  3. Very interesting. Oh to have laundromats carpeted with moss-what a sight!

  4. Hi Catherine, sounds like it would not exactly be my 'cup of tea' either. But you did good with what you had to work with.
    I've been in the hospital again. Seems be be October is my month each year for getting sick. I do this just to screw up Bob's hunting season you know. That isn't nice of me but seems to be the way it works. In fact the Dr. who admitted me said he admitted me this year on the same exact day he was releasing me last year. O'well. I need to behave myself. Hopefully I'm back to get busy and start visiting everyone again and possibly write a little on my blog although I'm a little brain dead at this point. I'll just have to be happy visiting for now.
    It's sooooo good to be out and reading all of you again!

  5. Catherine, I actually think you've given it a very fair review. Like you, I prefer to read about people or places that have some grounding in fact or history. In fact, I rarely pick up works of fiction, but when I do, I prefer them to be well researched and plausible at least. This book sounds like one I'd choose to leave on the shelf.

  6. I'm sorry this book wasn't such a good fit for you, but I'm glad it was easy to pick up even after a few days away. :)

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  7. I'm more into non-fiction myself but this does sound like an interesting read.

  8. I think you've done a very fair review here Catherine. It's a hard job to do when you've not warmed to the charcters - sounds like I wouldn't have liked them much either! I do enjoy fiction books but they either have to be based in reality or totally outside of it, not lurking inbetween as though they can't quite make up their mind!
    I've just reviewed a book over on my blog but I really enjoyed that - it was by Kathryn Hall at 'Plant whatever brings you joy' and was a pleasure to review ......so I'm feeling quite lucky that I got such an enjoyable read!

  9. Hi Catherine - thanks for posting about this book. I haven't heard of it, but might be tempted to pick it up before the movie comes out. (I cant' find the time to sit and read for hours either!)

  10. Hi Catherine, I'm more of the memoir type reader myself--preferring to read real life stories and learn something in the process. You know, the ole "killing two birds with one stone" trick. Gotta keep those brain waves kicking.

    This sounds like a cute romance novel. Something my daughters might like to read. The cover is gorgeous.


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