Nine Perfect Strangersby Liane Moriarty Published 06 Nov 2018
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Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? In Liane Moriarty’s latest page-turner, nine perfect strangers are about to find out...
Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.
Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?
It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.
Combining all of the hallmarks that have made her writing a go-to for anyone looking for wickedly smart, page-turning fiction that will make you laugh and gasp, Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers once again shows why she is a master of her craft.
"Nine Perfect Strangers" Reviews
Liane Moriarty's latest offering is a hugely enjoyable psychological thriller that is pure fun and entertainment whilst incorporating a look beneath the issues of a wide cast of characters and the moving stories that lie behind the facade of their everyday lives. Set in Australia, Tranquillem House is a health and wellness resort that many clients claim transformed their lives for the better. The latest batch of arrivals are 9 strangers that get considerably more than they bargained for with their 10 day cleansing programme of diet, light exercise, therapy and spa treatments. It is run by the Russian Masha, a ruthlessly ambitious former company executive whose near death experience led to a complete change in her life direction. Masha had a dark and hidden agenda for her latest customers, driven by the best of intentions, supported by her primary staff members, Yao, and Delilah.
Twice married Frances Welty is an established writer of romances whose career has gone into freefall with her latest offering being rejected by the publishing industry and whose boyfriend, Paul Drabble, has disappeared. Ben and Jessica are a troubled married couple who appear to be remarkably well off. Napoleon is a schoolteacher, with his wife, Heather, and daughter, Zoe, the entire family weighed down by grief and guilt. Tony is a former star footballer, who has recently lost his beloved dog, Banjo. Carmel has lost her husband to a younger woman, has four children, and has lost her self esteem and confidence. Lars is a well heeled divorce lawyer, who only represents wives in his word of mouth law practice. As the story progresses, the backstories and issues that lie behind each individual comes to be slowly revealed. The narcissistic, remote and humourless Masha has plans for them which she is certain will truly transform their lives and which will presage a glorious and glittering future with her in the limelight, enjoying global acclaim.
There is plenty of sly humour and wit in Moriarty's story of madness and mayhem at a health resort, where people with little in common with each other find themselves in circumstances where they form unexpected bonds and undergo unexpected transformations. The characters are well drawn and distinct, beautifully developed, all with such high hopes for their short stay at Tranquillem House, their interactions with each other are a joy to hehold. There are heartbreaking stories behind some of the characters, including Masha, that become apparent by the end. I found it hard to resist Moriarty's magic and succumbed to this fabulous novel with absolutely no regrets. A fantastic read with plenty of suspense and tension that comes highly recommended. Many thanks to Penguin Michael Joseph for an ARC.
Nine, worn-down-by-life, strangers, sign-up for an exclusive ten-day, mind and body total transformation retreat, but end up getting much more than they bargained for!
I was expecting the Nine Perfect Strangers to be strangers to each other but this wasn’t the case. Two were a married couple, while a further three were family members – father, mother, and their 20 year old daughter, while the remaining four were indeed strangers – two male, two female. Of course, the title does have a deeper, cleverer meaning that I am of course not going to reveal. The fact that some were related did make it admittedly easier to keep the various characters straight, as there were thirteen POV’s – made up of the nine guests, three core staff, and one other (no spoilers!), so quite a few voices to keep up with.
Nine Perfect Strangers isn’t a thriller, crime, or mystery novel, and while there are moments of psychological suspense, there are not enough of them to bill it as that either. To be fair the back of the book doesn’t mention any of the above genres, but because that’s what I’ve come to expect from Liane Moriarty even though I did quite like this, at the same time I couldn’t help feeling disappointed. I would call it contemporary, chick-lit – a light, entertaining, amusing romp, that would make an excellent beach read. I would even go as far as to call it a parody, as it does poke fun at itself several times, and the silliness towards the end screams deliberate. The characters were all interesting, and their reasons for attending a health retreat were moving, emotional, touching real world, relatable issues. The back of the book lists the following words – shame, guilt, loss, grief, privilege, insecurity, addiction, identity, love – and I think that sums up the novel nicely. So, all in all, it was well done, but I would’ve preferred it to be crime, psychological suspense.
Excited to join in on buddy reading this one with the Traveling Sisters group. If you haven’t read this and would like to join in/discuss please let me know! ♥️📚
*BOTM choice Nov 2018
Seriously, I don't know if I loved this book or absolutely hated it. Half way through I was done with it...but, there is a pull to keep you reading to see what happens to the Idiotic Nine, whom I also loved and hated.
There are 10-11 storylines in the book all told sporadically from each of their points of view. It wasn't confusing in the least, but it did get rather boring, especially for the characters that I didn't like. Even the epilogue went on....and on.....and on. Perhaps if it had been more selectively edited I would have enjoyed it more but, as it was, it is a book I will forget by next week. I expect better and more from Moriarty. Sadly.
‘She’s back’ exclaims the front cover of my proof copy of Nine Perfect Strangers, the latest release from household name and bestselling author Liane Moriarty. If you don’t know who Liane Moriarty is I might mistake you for living under a rock! She is one of Australia’s greatest exports, gracing the illusive New York Times bestseller list many times over. She also has close ties to Hollywood superstars Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, thanks to the HBO series Big Little Lies which is based on Moriarty’s most well known book. So it is safe to say the anticipation bar for Nine Perfect Strangers was set high for me and many readers. Thankfully I am happy to report Moriarty’s eighth novel is one entertaining page turner!
In Nine Perfect Strangers Moriarty takes a slight departure from her popular domestic setting and moves her action to a rural location. Tranquillum House is a health and well resort, nestled in country NSW. This retreat offers a complete transformation experience, a total wellness overhaul. When nine discordant strangers descend on Tranquillum for its renowned ten day package, each has their own reasons and goals to achieve during their time at the resort. To support them during their time is the centre director, a woman with plenty of motivation to keep these nine people on their toes during their time at Tranquillum. But this ten day stay is turned on its head, quite literally, when something big transpires, altering the pathway of each of these guests.
I recently read an interview with Liane Moriarty where she discusses the inspiration behind her latest novel, Nine Perfect Strangers. Moriarty cites a personal interest in the public’s fascination and perhaps preoccupation with wellness retreats, our desire to attain a sense of spirituality and our obsession with self improvement. In some cases, the public can view these wellness centres as a kind of religion. I liked Moriarty’s motivation and her willingness to delve into a world that perhaps we do not know a lot about. I know I personally have never visited a health retreat, so this story was an eye-opener! Moriarty’s new novel sends a jeer in the way of these seductive resorts and our preoccupation with wellness. It is a scathing at times, insightful and a scintillating glimpse into the world of health retreats.
As we have come to expect with Moriarty’s novels, going on the back of the highly successful previous novels, Big Little Lies and The Husband’s Secret, the characterisation is top notch in Nine Perfect Strangers. Moriarty spends a lot of time laying down the foundations and her scaffolding technique works. We soon build a solid picture of each and every one of the nine perfect strangers. There are a good cross section of players in this novel, from instant millionaires, to success stories, families and more. Moriarty also excels in her ability to show us both sides of the spectrum in this business, we see the workers and owners, as well as the patrons of this enterprise. It is fascinating! Each individual has their own unique journey, but they all converge and come to a head during the life changing stay at Tranquillum.
Although at times the approach to the main subject matter and themes features in Nine Perfect Strangers is humourous and almost whimsical, buried underneath this facade are some serious themes. Moriarty uses Nine Perfect Strangers as a tool to expose issues such as guilt, loss, broken relationships, family politics, self image, wealth and reconciliation. When we think deeper about these issues, they are the everyday problems that ordinary people face in their day-to-day lives. Perhaps this is why Moriarty has such widespread appeal. It is her ability to focus on the normal aspects of human life, in such an accessible and dark humourous way.
Moriarty is quite the plotter and she has quite the directive edge. There are a few plot twists and turns towards to end of the novel, that even now after finishing this book over a week ago, I am not entirely sure how I felt about the finale explosive big reveal. I find myself in a quandary as I am unable to discuss this aspect without venturing in spoiler territory. However, I have had the opportunity to discuss the pivotal final scenes of Nine Perfect Strangers with another respected author and like-minded reader. Our thoughts on this aspect of the novel were aligned. There is a kind of anti climax feeling attached to this part of the novel. I felt it and she did too. However, we both agreed that Moriarty is a fabulous storyteller and her characterisation is second to none!
In all probability, Nine Perfect Strangers will hit the spot for Moriarty fans, it is one cloak and dagger tale that will have you mesmerised from the opening, through to that explosive ending!
*Thanks extended to Pan Macmillan for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Nine Perfect Strangers, is book #124 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty is a 2018 Flatiron publication.
Frances- former bestselling romance author- ironically the victim of a romance con/scam
Lars- divorce attorney representing women only
Tony- former professional sports star
Napoleon, Heather, and Zoe- family coming apart at the seams
Caramel- Husband dumped her for a younger woman- wants to lose weight – gain positive self -image
Ben and Jessica – marriage on the rocks after winning the lottery
Masha- Head guru- health spa owner
Nine people, all from very different walks of life, arrive at Tranquillum House, a highly recommended health resort. Each of them is coping with various life issues, from simple domestic uncertainties, or huge family problems, to marital woes, and weight loss goals.
After the prologue, the first character the reader is introduced to is Frances. This was a great opener for the avid reader who will ‘get’ the subtle and not so subtle digs at the publishing industry and the trends they run right into the ground until they become a parody of themselves, forcing authors to either hop on board the train or wait for their chosen genre to become popular again. So, right away, I knew I was going have to see how Frances fared, and was all in. I couldn’t wait to see what other sardonic observations the author had up her sleeve.
But, I must warn you. This book is not like Moriarty’s previous novels, which usually centered around the family unit, providing a taut element of suspense, blended with humor and sarcasm. This novel has the humor, sarcasm and the suspense, but the setting is not at all domestic, as you will see.
I usually dislike novels with a large cast of characters. I get confused easily trying to keep up with so many backstories and the plot is usually way too busy. However, this book is an exception. I had no trouble keeping up the characters and the plot is straightforward, so despite the number of characters, the story has a nice, even flow. The only drawback might be that it loses some of the intimacy of Moriarty’s previous works.
I loved all the characters. They are a zany group of people, flawed of course, some dealing with deeper issues than others, but all of them are so human and real. I rooted for and cared for them all, but Frances remained a favorite character for me from start to finish. Heather, Zoe, and Napoleon have the meatiest story in the book and evoke some serious emotions.
Overall, this one is a bit of a departure for Liane Moriarty, but her signature style is etched all through the novel. While the plot is just this side of deranged, the story is a compulsive read, perhaps a little overlong, but otherwise compelling and highly engrossing!!