Rating: 4 / 5
Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers is the eccentric and witty story of an unconventional and life-changing ten-day wellness retreat whose attendees change each others’ lives in unexpected ways.
Nine Australians from all walks of life converge at a high-end Australian health resort. The beautiful Tranquillum House promises a life-changing experience to relax, reset, and become rebirthed. It is run by an almost mythical ex-marketing executive, Masha, and her placid henchmen, Yao and Delilah.
The guests arrive, skeptical but hopeful, for their ten-day retreat. There’s Frances, an outgoing and needy middle-aged romance author; Ben & Jessica, a bickering couple who recently won millions in the lottery; Napoleon, Heather, and Zoe, a fit and grief-stricken family; Lars, a zen health resort aficionado; Carmel, the one-dimensional mother of four young girls; and Tony, a sketchy and out-of-shape middle-aged divorcée.
What happens at Tranquillum House is nothing if not transformative, but surely not in the way any of its guests were expecting. Unlikely connections and relationships blossom, and each guest’s past is exposed. Even the most unlikely of characters will surprise you, especially in the face of outrageous adversity.
Please take caution while reading Nine Perfect Strangers if any of the following topics may trigger you:
- Body hatred / fat phobia
- Drug use / addiction
This is the first book I’ve ever read by Liane Moriarty and I loved it. Moriarty is a master at weaving captivating and descriptive stories; Nine Perfect Strangers is a wonderfully lighthearted and eccentric story that held my attention constantly.
Moriarty does a fantastic job of describing her characters, and there are a lot – twelve narrators in total! By the end, you know each guest and staff member in and out; you understand their quirks, desires, and pitfalls. Character development is helped, in no small part, to the perspectives of each character from both within their own heads and the observations and thoughts of the other guests. So many perspectives of each character is very unique and an aspect of this novel that I loved.
The writing is hilarious in a smart and unobtrusive way; I was giggling at witty lines constantly. What I found most amusing is Moriarty’s apparent self-deprecation. The main character, Frances, is a 50-something fiction author who often remarks about her writing process and the neuroses of authors, which (I’m assuming) mirrors Moriarty’s fun-house version of herself.
You may have heard that the storyline goes off the rails somewhere in the middle of this novel. There is a twist, and it’s definitely wacky, but I think it’s so fun! I don’t believe it’s as outlandish as some have made it out to be, and it adds intriguing elements of fantasy and suspense.
All in all, I seriously enjoyed Nine Perfect Strangers. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and you shouldn’t either. At over 450 pages, it’s a surprisingly quick read thanks to the continued allure of the story. If you’ve read and loved other Moriarty novels, I’ve been told that it’s nothing like her other books. While I can’t speak to that, I can tell you that you will enjoy this light and seriously fun story!
Thanks so much for taking the time to read my thoughts on Nine Perfect Strangers. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the novel in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya!