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Hothouse Flower and the 9 Plants of Desireby Margot Berwin
Synopses & Reviews
Eat, Pray, Love meets The Orchid Thief in this rollicking debut novel about plant magic, spiritual discovery, and romantic fever in the jungles of Mexico.
Shortly after her divorce, advertising executive Lila Nova purchases her first plant. It's a bird-of-paradise, and the seller is David Exley, a rugged "country-sexual" who seems to promise a paradise of his own making. Lila is immediately obsessed — with plants and with the man who sells them — but when David introduces her to the myth of the nine plants of desire, and when she meets a man named Armand who claims to own the nine plants, her obsession reaches unexpected heights: if she can possess all nine plants, the legend goes, her wildest dreams will be fulfilled.
But Lila is too trusting, and as a result she is soon off on an adventure she never meant to take: in the Yucatán, alone, hefting a backpack full of travel guides and expensive shampoo, and learning more than she ever wanted to know about the rain forest — and about herself.
Plant mythology, shamans and charlatans, mysterious spirit animals, orchid obsessives, scorpions, poisonous snakes, and handsome Huichols...they're all here in this tale of mystery, adventure, and heat — in every sense of the word.
"Berwin delivers a bangup debut packed with adventure, betrayal, love and, naturally, rare plants. New York ad woman Lila Nova, increasingly disillusioned with her job and the city, becomes enchanted by David Exley, a handsome guy selling plants at a green market. Soon, she's hooked on him, and her budding fascination with tropical plants leads her to a Laundromat that has a rare fern displayed in the window. Proprietor Armand quickly befriends Lila and gives her a trimming from the fern to take home, telling her if it forms roots, he'll show her the nine special plants he keeps in the back room. When Exley sees the fern trimming, Lila tells him about Armand's special plants, and soon the plants have been stolen and Exley has disappeared. Armand guilts Lila into coming to Mexico with him to find replacement plants, and there's magic, romance, greenery and greed as Lila and Armand venture through the Yucatan, hooking up with potential love-interest Diego and running into the devious Exley. It's a fun page-turner — escapist and wonderfully entertaining. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] shameless guilty pleasure of a romp....An adventure combining the kinetic, cinematic razzledazzle of a Spielberg fantasia with the Mesoamerican metaphysical mojo of Carlos Castaneda....[A] sultry, psychedelic summer soufflé of a read." Elle
"Margot Berwin is equal parts fabulist, botanist, and comedian. I learned a lot from this delightful novel, and now I know just what to do the next time I confront a rattlesnake, a scorpion, or a strange but wise plant man in a Laundromat." Chris Bohjalian, author of Midwives, The Double Bind, and Skeletons at the Feast
"Nearly impossible to put down. This refreshing novel has an almost comic book sense of high adventure. Strange and improbable, Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire is unswervingly fun to read." Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of Pay it Forward
This rollicking debut novel about plant magic, spiritual discovery, and romantic fever in the jungles of Mexico follows a divorced advertising executive on an adventure she never meant to take in the Yucatán, alone, learning more than she ever wanted to know about the rain forest and herself.
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.
Lila Nova lives alone in a plain, white box of an apartment. Recovering from a heartbreaking divorce, Lilas life is like her home: simple, new, and empty. But when she meets a handsome plant-seller named David Exley, an entire world opens up before her eyes. Late one night Lila stumbles across a strange Laundromat and sees ferns so highly-prized that a tiny cutting can fetch thousands of dollars. She learns about flowers with medicinal properties to rival anything found in drugstores. And she hears the legend of nine mystical plants that bring fame, fortune, immortality, and passion.
The owner of the Laundromat, Armand, presents Lila with a test: if she can make the cutting from a fire fern grow roots, he will show her the secret of his locked room. But Lila is too trusting, and with one terrible mistake she ruins her chance to see Armands plants. The only way to win it back is to travel, on her own, to the Yucatan.
Deep in the rain forests of Mexico, Lila enters a world of shamans and spirit animals, snake charmers, and sexy, heart-stopping Huichols. Alone in the jungle, Lila is forced to learn more than she ever wanted to know about nature—and about herself. An exhilarating journey of love and self-discovery, Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire brings together mystery, adventure, and heat, in every sense of the word.
About the Author
Margot Berwin earned her MFA from the New School in 2005. Her stories have appeared on Nerve.com, in the New York Press, and in the anthology The Future of Misbehavior. She worked in advertising for many years and lives in New York City with a killer collection of plants.
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