For those of you who don’t know, The Cactus by Sarah Haywood is our Book Of The Month for April. As part of our online Book Club we’ve set out some questions around The Cactus for you to either answer below or use as discussion points at your Book Club. Happy Book Clubbing!
“For Susan Green, messy emotions don’t fit into the equation of her perfectly ordered life. She has a flat that is ideal for one. A job that suits her passion for logic and an “interpersonal arrangement” that provides cultural and other, more intimate, benefits. But suddenly confronted with the loss of her mother and the news that she is about to become a mother herself, Susan’s greatest fear is realised. She is losing control.
When she learns that her mother’s will inexplicably favours her indolent brother, Edward, Susan’s already dismantled world is sent flying into a tailspin. As Susan’s due date draws near and her family problems become increasingly difficult to ignore, Susan finds help and self-discovery in the most unlikely of places.”
Book Club questions:
The following are written with the presumption you have read the book. If you haven’t, bookmark the post for now so you can come back and answer the questions later.
- On page 151 Susan looks at herself in her mother’s dressing table mirror and sees multiple versions of herself. She is disappointed. How many versions of our self do you think we have? Our social media self, our work self, our home self…. Does Susan have all of these sides? How important is it to have, or to not have, multiple versions of our self?
- Susan describes her perfect day on page 154. The section is only a few pages long, yet there is 12 separate references to her father not drinking. How much of an effect does Susan’s childhood have on her present life? How different do you think Susan would have been if that day had actually happened? Who was more affected by Susan’s father’s drinking, Susan, her mother, or her brother?
- In the book Susan describes a feminist as someone who is “iron-willed, teflon-coated, in total control of every aspect of her life’. Kate believes it boils down to “knowing that women are equal to men, and living that knowledge”. Who do you think is correct?
- On page 211 Susan notes her cactus whilst thriving, have never bloomed. Rob says this is because they need more than just basic care to bloom. How true to this is life? A human can ‘survive’ quite easily, yet without love, friends, fun, does a person ever really bloom? What elements is Susan missing in her life? Would she agree?
- Kate advises Susan to start saying yes to things in life. Does she? What happens when/if she does?
Give us your answers
Feel free to answer as many of the questions as you like, it’s not an all or nothing thing. Post your replies below or pose some questions of your own.