Thursday, August 19, 2010

desiring hothouse flower

"Plants first. And if everything went well, then I'd move on to people."
About a month ago I received an email proposing a possible book review. Hothouse Flower: and the Nine Plants of Desire. It sounded intriguing enough and so I began to read the synopsis: "In the heart of New York City, hidden in the back room of an old Laundromat, are nine rare and valuable plants. Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire tells the story of this legendary garden, and the distance one woman must travel—from the cold, harsh streets of Manhattan to the lush jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula—to claim what is hers..." I could not wait to get my hands on it. It would either be an intoxicatingly sensual escape, or, a pathetic chick-lit attempt at cultural fantasy.
Within a week I immersed myself into the story of Lila, a 30-something divorcée, living in New York. She is what some may call lost--working hard in a career she is no longer passionate about, living alone in an empty apartment (both literally and figuratively), and desperately trying to embrace life again following her failed marriage--and that's exactly what I'd call her, at the very least on the day when she wandered into Union Square's Green Market. She becomes captivated with David Exley, a earthy, bewitching, and handsome plant-seller, and before long finds herself walking away with a Birds of Paradise. It is the first of many plants, twists, and turns that will serendipitously lead her to a tropical Laundromat in the East Village and beyond, transforming her her life forever.
In a guest post author Margot Berwin published on this blog she described her inspiration: "As we were strolling down the block I noticed an old, decrepit Laundromat. Not unusual for the neighborhood, except for the fact that this one was both open and filled to the brim with plants... Even though it was very late the owner happened to be there and I asked him why he had so many plants in his laundry. He said he was from Colombia and they made him feel at home. He told me that the mist from the washing machines and the heat from the dryers created a perfect greenhouse for his plants and he considered his Laundromat to be a greenhouse with some clothes going around in circles. He gave me a cutting and told me to come back if it took root and he would give me another."
"I left the Laundromat clutching the cutting to my chest like a lunatic and I walked home the 14 blocks to my apartment." she continued, "During that walk the entire book downloaded into my head like it was coming from a piece of computer software. I began writing that night and didn’t stop until the book was done. Now I had a place to hide the nine plants of desire, a myth I had already created, I would put them in a back room of a Laundromat in Manhattan. A place no one would ever think to find rare tropical plants."
To call her creativity magical, would be an understatement. Margot divides the book into three parts, beginning and ending with New York City and dividing it all with the Yucatán Peninsula. She also titles nearly every chapter with the name of an exotic plant. An example, you ask?
How's this one, it's clever description included... Mexican Cycad (Zamia furfuracea) You think you're old? Cycads have the rare privilege of surviving two hundred million years of history. When you compare recently discovered cycad fossils with today's living plants, they appear to have changed little in all that time, giving them the disinction of being considered living dinosaurs. To take that thought one step further, whatever cataclysmic event killed the dinosaurs--an ice age, or perhaps a comet crashing into the earth--did not make a dent in the cycad population. Hardy little fellows, aren't they?
These titles describe the Nine Plants of Desire more thoroughly while additionally providing background to other rare varieties. The are, of course, exceptional chapters that are titled with other relevant keywords like Huichol Shamans, the Number Nine, Scorpions, and Dating. Oh, come on now, my sweet readers, you cannot tell me you're not interested in reading it for yourself to find out more.
Looking for a triumphant end-of-the-summer read with mystery, love, and adventure? Look no further than Hothouse Flower by Margot Berwin. The story fantastically unravels with sexy yet striking details and takes the reader on both a physical and spiritual journey towards the kind of magic that is real to all of us. On the hardcover edition, Christina Schwarz is touted with describing it, "as vivid and colorful as a jungle flower." I would agree.

As a tour host, I must admit that I received my copy of Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire as compliments of the publisher. I also agreed to post this unconventional review on this date with TLC Book Tours. There was no contract that it would be favorable, however. These opinions are purely and truly individually mine, and if you'd like to form some of your own please tell me so, you might end up lucky with a new book of your own.
On the first few pages of Hothouse Flower, Margot chose to published a quote by the character Don Juan in Carols Castaneda's Journey to Ixtlan. "For me the world is weird because it is stupendous, awesome, mysterious, unfathomable; my interest has become to convince you that you must assume responsibility for being here, in this marvelous world, in this marvelous desert, in this marvelous time. I wanted to convince you that you must learn to make every act count, since you are only going to be here for a short while; in fact, too short for witnessing all the marvels of it."I could not think of a more appropriate beginning to this overwhelmingly enchanting novel. I am left breathless, still.


  1. This sounds fantastic and I am definitely adding it to my wishlist. Thanks!

  2. Oh my word I have been dying to get this book... definitely getting it today. Just found your blog and I love it! You have a new follower!


  3. This book sounds fantastic! I'm glad you did a review - thanks :)

  4. Hi Danielle
    Thank you so much for this review of my novel Hothouse Flower. I woke up to it this morning and I'm really thrilled. Kinda makes ME want to read it again! Awesome blog too!

    to the people who wrote in- I hope you enjoy the book. Connect with me on facebook if you want to discuss.

    Margot Berwin

  5. Skinny Sushi: Oh it is, my dear. Let me know if you end up reading it!

    Fashion Meets Food: (1) Yay, enjoy it! (2) Welcome! So glad you like it here :)

    carolinavogue: 'Twas my pleasure, hope you get a chance to read it yourself.

    Margot:)): Wow, thank you so much! I honestly did feel so overwhelmingly positive about it and I hope that shined through. Thanks for exposing me to such a magical story.

  6. I am going to go buy this book ASAP! I crave to read things that will inspire me and change the way I see the world. Thanks for sharing things!

    I hope you are alright, good luck with the job search! I can't wait to read more about your trip plans :)!

  7. Sana: Oh good, you're very welcome! Thanks, darling :)

  8. I read this book last year and loved it, which was why I was so excited to work on finding other people to read it on this blog tour. I'm so glad you loved it too! Like Margot, you make me want to read it again. One of my favorite parts of the book were the introductions to each chapter. Many of them had me laughing out loud.

    Thanks for being a part of this tour!

  9. trish: Thank YOU for having me! The beginning of each chapter had me giggling each time as well. I will definitely be rereading those intros at the very least :).


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