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Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire

Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire is the debut novel by Margot Berwin. It centers on, Lila, a 30-something advertising copywriter who finds herself starting over after a divorce. Like many who find themselves beginning anew she figures that her NYC apartment could use a houseplant, of course. Gardeners, houseplant growers in particular, will appreciate this light and fun read. If you find yourself predicating what will happen next it is not because the plotline is trite. It's because we (houseplant growers) have all been there before. We know that houseplants are gateway plants and they always come with dealers. Unscrupulous plant dealers. They are charming and full of information and they're willing to sell you plants that are more expensive after giving you a taste.

Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire, Margot Berwin
The next thing you know you're noticing storefront gardens, meeting strange gardeners who share plant cuttings with you. Your newfound addiction to tropical plants culminates in a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula where you use mandrake to poison a bronzed jungle god-who is helping you track down the nine plants of desire- so he will sleep with you. I think everyone who has ever purchased a tropical plant will recognize this story as his or her own. Amirite? The search for these exotic plants take Lila on a journey in which she discovers that she wasn't starting over when she bought her first houseplant. She had never actually lived until the plants and strange people came into her life.

Hothouse Flower packs plenty of giggles and guffaws to entertain the self-aware indoor plant grower. Enough plant lore to keep the serious plantinista's brain involved. In addition, there is just enough steamy action for the non-gardener whose eyes may glaze over at the plant talk. Oh, and plenty of wacky characters.

Margot Berwin has created the literary equivalent of visiting a greenhouse in the middle of winter when you do not have any intention of buying a plant. You're just there because your want a respite from the cold, want to take in the scent of soil, plants and humidity to help you get through the winter. It is all the fun with none of the commitment of taking home a plant.

I have grown seven of the nine plants of desire in my time. Gloxinia, Mexican cycad, Moonflower, Lily of the Valley, Mandrake, Chicory and Datura.

Hothouse Flower is published by Random House and retails for $14.95. I received my copy of the book for free and neither the publisher or author compensated me for my review. If you purchase it through my link I'll get a small commission and you'll probably pay less than the suggested retail value.


  1. That book looks good! I'm trying to put together a collection of stuff to read for my vacation. @ weeks on a boat, there's got to be some reading time in there somewhaere? Right? This one looks like its worth picking up!

  2. La la la la (that's me skimming this review since I haven't yet read the book or done my own review). Just wanted to say hi, though. You know.

  3. Anonymous5:02 PM

    "It is all the fun with none of the commitment of taking home a plant." That's exactly what I need, since I can't keep ANYTHING vaguely plantlike alive in my house.

    Thanks for such a fun review and for being a part of the tour!

  4. Hello There!
    Thank you SO MUCH for reviewing my novel Hothouse Flower and the nine plants of desire. I can't believe you grew seven of the nine plants. You're on your way to getting everything you want in life!'s hard to get the word out so it's very much appreciated! I'm going to post your blog on my twitter page now...

    If anyone wants to connect about the book, send me a message on facebook. I get back to everyone.

    Just a little background on the book. There really is a laundromat packed with plants in NYC.

    There really is a guy named Armand

    The book has now been translated into 14 languages and was optioned by SONY pictures!

    Thanks so much for posting,

  5. "Amirite"? For a second there, I thought you were talking about some rare mineral discovered in the jungle, and the proceeds would finance anyone's out-of-control plant addiction. Good job on the review, MBT. I love a book that travels when I can't. It's one more book to add to my wish list.

  6. Sounds like an entertaining summer read MBT. Thanks for reviewing it. I'm a sucker for a good novel involving gardening and plants.

    Congrats, and best wishes for great success with your debut novel Ms. Berwin

  7. This is actually quite juicy sounding!!! Nice review!!!

  8. Sounds worth reading at the beach next month. I'll pick it up.

  9. I'll definitely have to read this one! I work at a bookstore so I'll just check it out. :)

  10. Sounds fabulous! Can't wait to pick it up.

  11. Hi, Everyone.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. If you're looking for a light summer read, maybe for over the Labor Day weekend check out this book.



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