Author: Liane Moriarty
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Date of Publication: 30th Nov 2018
‘Sometimes your life changes so slowly and imperceptibly that you don’t notice it all until one day you wake up and think ”How did I get here?” But other times life changes in an instant with a lightning stroke of good luck or bad luck with glorious or tragic consequences.’
Nine Perfect Strangers was one of the top contenders for Goodreads Choice Awards in the Fiction category. This and having read and loved Big Little Lies, I had to give this book a chance. Unfortunately for me, Nine Perfect Strangers didn’t live up to all the hype created around it.
The premise of Nine Perfect Strangers is a wellness retreat called ‘Tranquillam Resort’. Now self-improvement is always an appealing notion. It’s human nature, we are always looking for ways to look and feel beautiful. That’s why the beauty and wellness industry never suffers a cash crunch.
As the title of the novel suggests, nine strangers gather at Tranquillam House for a ten day ‘cleanse’. Some want to reboot their life, some want to loose weight, some are there to detoxify physically and ‘spiritually’ and some have just come for relaxation. The nine strangers are pleasantly surprised with the luxury and pampering of Tranquillam House. They enjoy the meditations and beauty treatments offered and the delicious food. But they are aware that some real. hard work is required to meet their personal goals. However, they are simply not ready for the methods and practices used by the director of Tranquillam House.
The reader gets most of the story from the POV of Frances Welty. She is a middle-aged romance writer, who comes to Tranquillam House nursing a broken heart and a bad back. The other characters like the Marconi family, Ben and Jessica, Lars, Carmel and others have their own personal issues. They are all intrigued by Masha, the director of Tranquillam House. Does she have the answers to their problems? Can they put their trust in her completely or should they just run while they still can?
I almost bought Nine Perfect Strangers at Blossoms bookstore, Banglore. I changed my mind when I came home and immediately bought it on Kindle. But it never took off for me. I just could get involve in the story. I found the plot slow and writing abrupt. There were eleven characters introduced in the book. All of them had a solid, detailed backstories. Some were interesting, some were sad and some were just not necessary.
Each character in Nine Perfect Strangers has a POV. This technique has always worked for me because the reader gets an insight into the mind of the character. But it didn’t work in this novel. The plot was not interesting enough to make it work.
Nine Perfect Strangers is difficult to categorize in a genre. It has elements of contemporary fiction, thriller, mystery, chick lit and is darkly comic in some parts. The twists are predictable and almost laughable. The story seemed a little over the top. Moriarty did manage to tie things up towards the end but it was a dragged out and lengthy process.
Nine Perfect Strangers is not Liane Moriarty’s finest work but I am still a fan of her and I will look forward to reading her other novels.