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Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
Genres: Contemporary fiction
Published: 18th September, 2018
Nine Perfect Strangers felt a bit like a Liane Moriarty book written by someone else. Sounds weird? Well, it was! A health retreat owner with revolutionary ideas, a bunch of people looking for emotional and physical healing; a good premise for an interesting read, but something was missing. Well, guess what: the plot.
I read all Moriarty’s books, and what I loved the most about them were how she portrayed average people and put an intriguing spin on mundane things. So, of course this is what I expected. In Big Little Lies the author proved she can create a brilliant cast of character and can make their lives and struggles seem interesting, no matter how banal or serious they may be. Throw together nine guests, a mysterious owner and two employees, and all of a sudden it’s just too much.
Frances: A romance writer whose career seems to be on a downward trajectory. She’s witty, but set in her own ways.
Tony: Grumpy older dude with a fondness for all things meaty and bacony. Not in the habit of talking to people. Possibly a serial killer according to Frances.
Heather, Napoleon & Zoe: A family dealing with death and grief, and Napoleon’s seemingly endless chattering.
Jessica and Ben: A super rich married couple. They don’t seem to like each other very much anymore, and there’s a lot of focus and judgement on Jessica’s fake boobs. ‘Cuz you know, having fake boobs makes her opinion invalid apparently.
Carmel: A single mum who is obsessed with her weight gain and her ex husband’s new (hot) girlfriend.
Lars: Hot dude. Divorce lawyer who only represents rich women. Child-free by choice and a recreational drug aficionado.
There was no real focus on anyone and yet everyone was in the spotlight at some point. There was a bit of a mystery, but it wasn’t particularly interesting or mind blowing.
Putting that aside, there were some great moments I really enjoyed. A family of three (Heather, Napoleon & Zoe) going through something terrible, learn to reconnect with each other, learn the power of words and how quite often talking to someone doesn’t equal talking to someone. Quite often what stands between us and feeling good is not something or someone but ourselves. Giving up on something is not necessarily a bad thing, or equals quitting. Frances learns that just because we have always been doing something one way doesn’t mean that changing course is giving up ourselves. For Carmel the lesson to take home is that our self worth should not come from others, but from within. These are all great insights and I do love digging into these topics and how they affect people, and Moriarty is experienced enough a writer to not put too much unnecessary melodrama on them.
I won’t say this is a must-read for all Moriarty fans, because fuck knows anymore, but it’s not a bad book. Just throw your expectations out the window and be prepared for a leisurely stroll, a fictional flower sniffing if you like. Just like the guests at the retreat, you will take a slow walk through a story filled with questions about relationships, families and questionable ideas, and basically no plot to speak of.