Nine Perfect Strangersby 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.
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.
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 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!!
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.