Nine Perfect Strangersby 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
Sometimes your life changes so slowly and imperceptibly that you don't notice it at all until one day you wake up and think, 'How did I get here?' But other times, life changes in an instant with a lightning stroke of good or bad luck with glorious or tragic consequences.
This book is weird, because it’s sort of a meta-thriller-character-exploration that has no genre and hates genre convention, and what’s perhaps even weirder is that um… this is Liane Moriarty’s brand now.
I find it really interesting how Liane Moriarty’s brand has become thrillers that aren’t about the horror element, and how aware of that she is. With books like her two last, Big Little Lies and Truly Madly Guilty, she's used the thriller conceit to tell stories about the everyday horror that comes with domesticity and being a woman. I felt like she did this perfectly with Big Little Lies, but that the thriller conceit was ridiculous in Truly Madly Guilty. Here, I think she's truly leaned in to her talents for character development.
The thing is that what she lacks in actual suspense, she makes up for with interesting characters and some cool messages hidden under a simple story.
She remembered her first-ever boyfriend of over thirty years ago, who told her he preferred smaller breasts than hers, while his hands were on her breasts, as if she’d find this interesting, as if women’s body parts were dishes on a menu and men were the goddamned diners.
This is what she said to that first boyfriend: “Sorry.”
This was her first boyfriend’s benevolent reply: “That’s okay.”
Frances is a struggling romance novelist going for a weekend away to try and revamp her life after another bad experience with romance.
Napoleon, Heather, and Zoe are a family who seem far more perfect on the outside than they are on the inside. Zoe was arguably my favorite character in the book; compared to several other characters, she is perhaps the most rational. And while Napoleon and Heather aren’t quite as central, each has a lot of development and emotional conflict: there's this moment where they just hold hands and yet it is so amazing.
The characters don't end there; Ben and Jessica are a struggling young couple having a conflict over their previous lottery win. Carmel is a young mother dealing with body-image issues after her husband has left her for a younger woman. Lars is a divorce lawyer still attempting to retroactively fix his mother’s situation and in just a bit of conflict with his husband Ray; he was one of my favorite characters. Tony is an ex-football player attempting to change his life up again.
Together, they make up the title's nine perfect strangers, all trying to change their lives. And what I enjoyed the most is that all of these characters have their idiosyncrasies, and aren't particularly likable, but all manage to gain your sympathy anyway.
Perhaps the novel’s biggest problem is that the thriller aspect is really nothing but a ridiculous framing device, and doesn’t actually cause that much conflict to be brought to life. This is not fixed by the pacing issues — the beginning of the novel is far too long, and while the payoff for all her setup is fantastic, I thought she could have streamlined the middle by integrating character development into the plot with far more care. The novel’s tenth and eleventh character, Marsha & Yao, both get good development, but their role in the narrative itself is somewhat overextended at times.
That being said, the payoff truly is excellent. The book ends its chosen arcs with about eight different quality character endings, including but not limited to an amicable marital breakup that subverts expectations, a sendup of romance novels & commentary on the thriller genre, a very sweet coming-to-jesus moment for one couple, and an excellent and very feminist ending for one woman.
release date: 12 November 2018
✨Arc received from Flatiron for an honest review.
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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.
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!!
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.