Nine Perfect Strangersby Liane Moriarty Published 06 Nov 2018
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From #1 New York Times bestselling author Liane Moriarty, author of Big Little Lies, comes her newest novel, Nine Perfect Strangers: Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? These nine perfect strangers are about to find out...
"Nine Perfect Strangers" Reviews
HER BEST YET.
I said to my husband recently... I just love the way I feel when I’m reading a Liane Moriarty book. Like I'm surrounded by lovely, neurotic, warm, friends. And Liane has done it again with this wonderful book about nine strangers who go to a health retreat. As always, Liane's observations about life are just so damn spot on. Frances was my favourite guest, but the rest of the gang—Napoleon, Tony, Heather, Ben, Jessica, Carmel, Zoe, Yao... even Masha—I adored them too. I sort of wanted to go to that retreat ... and then I didn’t. I really didn't. The book is funny and sad and touching, and full of wisdom. All the feels. I feel so lucky to have read an early copy.
DNFed at 56%
This book was shit. There I said it.
I don't say this often nor lightly but this book had zero redeeming qualities. Having read and loved Big Little Lies (a bit to my surprise!), I was excited to read Moriarty's newest work.
In BLL, her characters were attaching and made me care about their stories. In this one, I'm assuming she meant for the characters to not be so loveable but damn... I also hated how much shit the "Instagram model" got. We get it, you judge them and their plastic surgeries, no need to mention it every time she appears.
The "twist" that happens at 55% made me put the book down because honestly at this point the book is a fucking mess.
No thank you. Don't recommend.
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.
Looks like a luscious fudge truffle, tastes like a chocolate-dipped gherkin.
Watch out for the green stuff.
I'm a Liane Moriarty fan. But this latest book is a mess. It's being marketed as a psychological thriller, but that's really not accurate since the story has only one major plot twist and very little actual suspense. The book's mission isn't really to surprise: instead, its mission seems to be to preach and nag. Unfortunately, by the end you won't have found out one darned thing you didn't already know.
Moriarty’s usual wry, spot-on observations about the dramas of real life are missing from this book. Setting all the action in an isolated (and oddly un-chichi) health spa cuts Moriarty off from showing everyday life and culture, which has been one of her greatest strengths. These characters are stranded, unable to go about their daily business of planning, worrying, drinking coffee, and bonding with other women. (Or worrying about what other women think of them.)
There are too many characters, eleven in all. And readers really get to know only two well: fifty-something romance author Frances and twenty-year-old nice-kid Zoe, who become unlikely allies as the spa experience grows weirder and more challenging.
The many other characters are painted in broad, overly general strokes, and their stories are only loosely connected. Each of the spa clients has an Important and Topical Issue to fret over: body image issues, menopause, social media addiction, death in the family, starting a family, plastic surgery addiction, the list keeps coming; you get the picture. Perhaps Moriarty had a list with check-off boxes to make sure she represented every demographic group.
Issues basically stand in for character development. I kept getting Ms. Guilty Grieving Mother mixed up with Ms. Body Image: both characters had dark hair and very little backstory, and they both moped around a lot. After a few hundred pages of characters sloooowly figuring out their many problems, all of the resolutions for even the major stories are sorted out and summed up in short, abrupt epilogue paragraphs. Hunh? And don’t even get me started on the book's single obligatory romance, which takes place [spoilers removed]
I’m guessing Moriarty was aiming to show all these strangers gradually thawing and bonding through the spa's team-building activities. And there is some of that. But the novel is really more like Fantasy Island goes to [spoilers removed] and the many unrelated characters' stories are connected very loosely by that hokey Fantasy Island plot device: they're all there at the same time to Change Their Lives.
And here is the novel’s biggest problem: the head of the spa is a great big galloping cartoon, a Russian control freak who improbably [spoilers removed] Even at the novel’s beginning, this character spouts so many Russian endearments she sounds like a Bond villain, and by extension, a peculiarly dated Cold War-era cliché.
Stereotyping is a problem with other characters as well. The book’s single gay character stops on his way to the spa to buy a case of really good wine and dreams of having a child who's a mini-me. The book’s only minority character is relegated to the thankless role of boss-worshiping flunkey. There is also nonstop gratuitous bashing of women who have body image issues (she really doesn’t need to lose weight! she just thinks she does), women who choose to have plastic surgery, and women who devote time to social media. The brief validation these characters get at the novel’s conclusion in no way compensates for the repeated scolding they weather throughout the rest of the book. Not to mention the fact that these aren’t solely women’s issues.
At one point, the book breaks the fourth wall in a trippy, meta way that I actually liked. We get dialogue from Frances’ editor: “!!!!” and “cliché?” which is just darned cute. But what a long way to travel for a mild joke.
Finally, the last word in the novel is devoted to [spoilers removed] a move that comes across as petty and weird, especially coming from a novelist who's basically become critic-proof.
I received my copy of the book through a Goodreads giveaway, and I was really excited until I actually read the book. Thanks Macmillan Flatiron and Goodreads, because the book is really pretty to look at.
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.
I never, ever thought I'd say this about a Liane Moriarty novel but...what a terrible, boring, pointless novel!
I really disliked this one. Couldn't wait for it to be over, actually. It was so boring and also claustrophobic at the same time, giving me a sense of desperation for these people to just be set free already. For the life of me I could not understand what the purpose of this book was. It didn't even sound like a Moriarty.
I am still a fan of the author and will for sure give her another try when the next novel comes out but this one? Wow, what a waste of my time...