Nine Perfect Strangers…
About the Book:
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.
Watching over them is the resort’s director, a woman on a mission to reinvigorate their tired minds and bodies.
These nine perfect strangers have no idea what is about to hit them.
With her wit, compassion and uncanny understanding of human behaviour, Liane Moriarty explores the depth of connection that can be formed when people are thrown together in unconventional circumstances.
Nine Perfect Strangers is one novel where the anticipation more than lives up to the experience itself. For me, this is Liane Moriarty’s best novel yet. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you much about it, because even a hint of spoilers will quite simply ruin the reading experience for you and I don’t want to be that person! I can however tell you why I think it’s her best and give you a few impressions, which will hopefully be enough of an enticement for you to pick it up and judge for yourself.
Nine Perfect Strangers lacks the ambiguity of Liane’s previous release, Truly, Madly, Guilty, which for me, was a huge bonus. Instead of a constant back and forth alluding to ‘something huge’ – such as in Big Little Lies – Nine Perfect Strangers unfolds chronologically and in the moment. Yes, there is some reflection on past events, but overall it’s styled very different to previous novels by Liane. There is no ‘something huge’, so to speak, more of an experience that is being shared by nine people that is so unbelievably out of the box that it’s this that bonds them, the experience as well as their reactions and connectivity over what they go through. I have to say, Liane blew me away with what she did to her characters in Nine Perfect Strangers. What begins as a stay at a pretty weird health retreat morphs into a truly bizarre scenario that was so violating to these characters – I was horrified. Such a clever storyline, and totally unexpected! There was an element to this novel that I like to call ‘Fargoesque’, and if you’ve seen the original movie Fargo, you’ll know what I mean. That dark humour that borders on inappropriate yet is utterly hilarious while at the same time completely unbelievable. When done well, as it was in this case, it’s priceless.
The characterisation in Nine Perfect Strangers was second to none. Each person had a unique presence, a distinctive voice, and while some characters had more air time than others, they all had a valid space to occupy. I particularly loved Frances, with her novelist’s eye and overactive imagination, but then the Marconi family’s story was one that particularly affected me deeply. I could empathise with Carmen, I liked Tony and Lars, and I had a great deal of understanding for Ben and Jessica. I liked them all, I became invested in each of them, and I enjoyed each person’s journey equally. It’s quite a feat, to craft a batch of characters like this, make them distinctive and authentic, yet not have any of them too annoying. And then there’s Masha. Perhaps one of Liane’s best characters yet. At first she was simply intense, narrow focused, a little zealous maybe. But as the retreat wore on, Masha was revealed in all her diabolical, narcissistic, sociopathic glory. She was, to put it simply, unbelievable. Along with Yao, who worshipped her, and was a stunning example of how a normal person with a modicum of intelligence can be taken in by the manipulations of a charismatic leader, Liane has created quite the cast for Nine Perfect Strangers.
Filled to the brim with snark and sarcasm, dark humour and witticisms, Nine Perfect Strangers touches on some serious issues, a few that really hit me hard. The burden of guilt, the roles we assume and then never let go of, the human tendency to keep doing what we’re already doing, even if it’s killing us. There’s plenty of food for thought in these pages. To a certain degree, you need to check your reality at the door with this novel, particularly throughout the second half and the ending, but I honestly liked that about it. It was entertaining, thoroughly funny; a marvellous way to spend a weekend. Nine Perfect Strangers comes with my highest recommendation, and if you’re in a book club, this is definitely one you’ll want to add to your reading list.
Thanks is extended to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of Nine Perfect Strangers for review.
About the Author:
Liane Moriarty is the Australian author of seven internationally bestselling novels, including the no. 1 NYT bestsellers The Husband’s Secret, Big Little Lies and Truly Madly Guilty. Her books have sold over fourteen million copies worldwide, including two million in Australia and New Zealand. The Husband’s Secret was a no.1 UK bestseller, an Amazon Best Book of 2013 and has been translated into over 40 languages. Big Little Lies and Truly Madly Guilty reached no.1 on the NYT bestseller list in their first week of publication – the first time this has been achieved by an Australian. Liane is also the author of the Space Brigade series for children.
Nine Perfect Strangers
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia
Released on the 18th September 2018