Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire by Margot Berwin (with giveaway!)

Title: Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire
Author:  Margot Berwin
Release date:  June 1, 2010
Publisher:  Vintage
Pages:  304
Genre:  Adult fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours

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.

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19 thoughts on “Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire by Margot Berwin (with giveaway!)

  1. I don’t want to be included in this giveaway, although I will mostly certainly add it to my weekly giveaway round-up. 🙂

    I hate it when the main character is unengaging- she’s usually your entry point into the story or the world, and if she can’t grab you, those things might follow in suit.

  2. Hi Heather,
    Thank you so much for your insightful review of my book-nice to wake up to this morning!
    I’m particularly happy that you liked the adventure part of the story. I wrote two memoirs before this (neither was published) and I really wanted to write an adventure story. I’d never done anything like that before so I concentrated heavily on that aspect of the book.
    My next book, which I’m finishing now is still movement oriented, but much more character driven. I’ll let you know when it’s out!

    I’m busy this morning–reading through your blog. It’s totally addictive!

    Thanks again for reviewing my novel!

    Margot Berwin
    Author
    Hothouse Flower and the nine plants of desire

    1. Margot, thank you so much for visiting! I’m glad you enjoyed reading my review (and quite honored that you’re looking through the rest of my blog!). I’d love the opportunity to read your next book, so keep me updated as to when it is released!

      Thanks and have a great weekend!

  3. I’d like to be included! I’m always looking for new authors/books to read, and while I don’t know that I would have picked this up on my own, I’d love to see what it’s all about!

  4. I would love to win this book. I’m a stay at home mom with an 11 month old and 6yo in 1st grade. I’m always looking for a new good book to read. I love reading in my spare time and with the kids getting older I have more and more time to read! Thank you

  5. As an avid gardener, birder and reader, if I see a book with flowers on the cover I’m going for it! I can understand traveling to the Yucatan for a plant or birds for that matter. Sounds like my kind of book.

  6. The description of this novel appealed to me for two reasons. I’m a plant lover and my beloved nephew’s name is Armand, as is his son. The premise of this book sounds interesting and I would be thrilled to read it.

  7. I would like to enter the contest. This book seems to have an original plot with interesting characters, and I like to be surprised by a novel.

  8. Although I admit, I generally am drawn to strong characters, I do appreciate an author putting together his/her first book for publication. I like to become acquainted with authors and their growth from novel to novel. I’d like to give this book a try. Thanks for the possibility.

    bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

  9. When I initially began this book I was intrigued. I come from a family of farmers and green thumbed-dirt digging workers. So, the opportunity to possibly learn more about tropical plants and enjoy a story that spanned two countries sounded delightful. In ways it was, and in others it just didn’t work for me.

  10. What were the names of the plants? I read the book a year or so ago and was impressed by the plant knowledge.

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