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Literature / Hothouse Flower and the 9 Plants of Desire

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Hothouse Flower and the 9 Plants of Desire is a 2009 escapist novel by Margot Berwin. It follows Lila Nova, a divorcée with a job in advertising who stumbles upon a laundromat that contains nine plants rumored to have magical properties. Armand, the laundromat’s owner, gives Lila a fire fern cutting and tells her that if it roots, he will show her said plants. She misplaces her trust in a plant vendor, resulting in Lila accompanying Armand on a trip to the Yucatan peninsula to gather specimens of the stolen plants. While there, she falls in love with the enigmatic and spiritual Diego, who helps her on her quest.

Hothouse Flower and the 9 Plants of Desire contains examples of:

  • Easily Forgiven: Lila takes the news that Armand was lying to her the whole time rather well.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Armand. He makes Lila travel with him to the Yucatan peninsula to find the tenth plant of desire under the guise of replacing the other nine plants, which he had cuttings of.
  • Misplaced Vegetation: Lila buys a strelitzia that was shipped from Hawaii, although considering that the story is set in New York, such plants would probably come from Florida. (The genus itself is native to South Africa.) Other examples are present, although they confuse the individual plant’s origin and that of the species.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Subverted. The premise is more of a Bait-and-Switch than anything, since the tenth plant of desire is the only one that actually needs to be found.
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  • The Sociopath: Armand, who manipulates Lila into helping him find the tenth plant of desire, repeatedly endangering her in the process, and then nonchalantly revealing his plan to her without so much as an apology.
  • Tuckerization: Armand is named after a friend of the author. May lead to Fridge Horror when considering the character in question.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Lila is so consumed by lust that it results in several of these instances which allow the plot to happen: telling Exley about the plants in the laundromat, accidentally giving Diego heart failure when trying to slip him an aphrodesiac...
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: The blurred line between reality and folklore is more believable than the sheer amount of exaggeration, research failures, and Fridge Logic.


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