Thirty-two-year-old Lila Nova is healing from a heartbreaking divorce, just trying to make it in the New York advertising industry, and feeling lonely in her tiny apartment when she meets David Exley, a plant seller. She is drawn to him immediately, and before she can stop herself, she’s taking plants home to “raise” and going on dates with the handsome Exley. Soon after, she stumbles upon a Laundromat run by a strange and fascinating man named Armand, who claims he has nine rare plants in the back room. Lila’s infatuation with Exley leads her to telling him a bit too much about Armand’s plants, and when those nine special plants disappear, it is up to Lila to travel to Mexico to get them back.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire. Is it a women’s fiction novel? Sort of. Is it a romantic novel? Sort of. Is it a book about one woman’s quest to “find herself”? Sort of. It’s all those things and more. I feel like Berwin tried to do a lot with the novel, and I have to admit that I’m not sure how well she succeeded.
Allow me to start with the good. First of all, there are some serious adventures in this novel. Lila travels all the way to the Yucatan Peninsula to search for plants, for goodness sakes! The trouble she gets into, and the amazing successes she has, made for spectacular reading. The descriptions of the scenery and the jungle were absolutely beautiful, I really felt as though Berwin painted a perfectly clear picture of everything Lila was experiencing. As an added bonus, I learned a LOT about plants, which I knew nothing about previously. I’ve never attempted to grow a plant (always lived in apartments, so that’s not so crazy), so it was very interesting to read about these different kinds of plants and what they all meant. It actually made me want to go out and plant flowers in my non-existent backyard. 🙂
Another thing I loved about this novel was the character of Armand. I didn’t expect to like him at first, because he is just so strange, and he says and does things that are so out of the realm of normal, but he ended up being so charming! He was so protective of Lila, while at the same time encouraged her to go further and further in her quest to find these plants, encouraged her to do things that she never imagined she was capable of. He really believed in her. He saw something in her, and didn’t let go until she lived up to it.
Unfortunately the book did have some shortfalls, in my opinion. My biggest issue with the novel was that I never really connected with Lila. I liked her, I just didn’t feel anything for her. As a character, she was sort of bland. Also, I thought that we were going to get more into her issues, such as her divorce, but it was really just glossed over. I appreciate that the majority of the book focused on her in the present, but I feel like Berwin gave me a teaser by saying she was recently divorced, and then not getting into it much. I just needed something more to help me latch onto Lila and root for her. As it stands, I really didn’t care about her enough to do that.
Overall, Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire was a fun novel that I did enjoy. While I had minor issues with it, I think Margot Berwin is an author I’ll be watching out for. I loved her storytelling and would absolutely pick up another of her novels. I would recommend this book if you’re looking for a fun, adventurous novel that will surprise you along the way.
The publisher has generously offered one copy of Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire to one of my readers! To be eligible to win, simply leave me a comment on this post telling me why you’d want to win this book. If you comment and DON’T want to be included in the giveaway, please say so. 🙂 This giveaway is for US/Canada only and you have until Monday, September 20th to enter, I will pick a winner the next day.