Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Full of ideas, radical solutions and relatable stories.

nineperfectstrangersNine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Genres: Contemporary fiction
Published: 18th September, 2018
Goodreads
Series: N/A
Rating: 3

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.
Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?
It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.


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.

The cast
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.

3

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25 comments

  1. I have only read one book by her, Big Little Lies and it was fab. Sorry to hear that this one didn’t work out for you though. Sucks about the ‘no plot’ thing. The whole retreat angle sounds kinda interesting otherwise. Great review, Norrie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Big Little Lies is my fave of her books. I think it’s the best for the mystery angle. There’s another one that involves a 70 year old mystery/family secret (The Last Anniversary) which was pretty cool, and What Alice Forgot sort of has mystery elements cuz the main character has amnesia 😀

      Like

  2. Ah! Sounds so disappointing. She worked so hard on the many characters, she let the plot slip. I still need to read a Liane Moriarty but this def won’t be my first one lol.

    Thanks for your always honest reviews, Norrie. 🙂

    Like

  3. I’ve seen many people describe this book as one not quite written in the Moriarty style and it’s been bugging me for a long time so I think I’ll skip it. I’m glad to see that some of the character backstories were interesting but shame that it didn’t quite reach her usual standard!

    Like

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