Title: Nine Perfect Strangers
Author: Liane Moriarty
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Date of Publication: 4th October 2018
Date of Review: 4th October 2018
The retreat at health-and-wellness resort Tranquillum House promises total transformation.
Nine stressed city dwellers are keen to drop their literal and mental baggage, and absorb the meditative ambience while enjoying their hot stone massages. Miles from anywhere, without cars or phones, they have no way to reach the outside world. Just time to think about themselves, and get to know each other.
Watching over them is the resort’s director, a woman on a mission. But quite a different one from any the guests might have imagined. For behind the retreat’s glamorous facade lies a dark agenda.
These nine perfect strangers have no idea what’s about to hit them . . .
With Liane Moriarty’s ‘My Husband’s Secret’ being in my all-time top 5 favourite novels, as soon as I saw this author had a new book out I just knew I wanted to read and review this.
The setting for Nine Perfect Strangers is a ‘health retreat’ where through alternating limited third-person perspectives we get to head-hop into the lives of the different characters. The story starts from Yeo’s Perspective. Yeo is one of the ‘personal wellness consultants’ at Tranquillum House, and through Yeo we are introduced to both his own backstory and that of his boss, Masha.
This is closely followed by visitors to the retreat where we soon discover each character has their own demon they are hoping to eliminate during their stay. Whilst as a group the characters are perfect strangers, some of the characters are related. But with each character hiding behind varying degrees of secrets and lies, the novel’s title metaphorically highlights how couples and families can still be strangers whilst to the outside world they are one unit. The head-hopping narrative works really well in portraying this.
This multi-perspective structure also works well in illustrating how judgemental people can be towards others, particularly with regards to first impressions. This is quite comedic at times: particularly with the first two characters we meet – Frances and Tony. The first time Tony meets Frances she’s having a menopausal melt down at the side of the road; Tony thinks she’s unwell and stops to help but as a fiction writer, Frances’ creative mind has put Tony down as a serial killer. Later at Tranquillum House, some of the guests think they know Tony from somewhere; making Francis believe her first instincts were right. Whether she is or not, you’ll just have to read the book to find out!
As the events at Tranquillam House unfold, the guests are not only forced to face their inner demons but are also forced to ‘bond’ with each other. This results in initial perceptions between the fellow guests to make a dramatic turn and allows the narrative to touch on a number of sensitive issues: in particular grief, loss, and guilt. In true Liane Moriarty style this is executed particularly well, making for an enjoyable and rewarding read.
Under Literature Love’s rating scheme
this book has been awarded 4 out of 5 stars.
I really enjoyed this book.
This book is highly recommended.
Thank you to the publisher, Michael Joseph, for an Advance Review Copy of this book.
About the Author
You can find out more about Liane at http://lianemoriarty.com.au/