Novel received from Book of the Month
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? In Liane Moriarty’s latest page-turner, nine perfect strangers are about to find out…
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.
I usually don’t bother reading stories that are fixated on finding love. As soon as books venture into characters down-trodden and lost due to love, or moving on after a failed breakup, I put the book down. Yet reading ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ by Liane Moriarty was a nice blend of characters from different backgrounds drawn together, gaining empowerment after difficult life situations.
‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ follow the lives of nine individuals taking part of a pricey, 10 day wellness retreat at Tranquillum House. The workshops are run by an overzealous guru, applying her un-orthodox approach of healing to the attendees in order to attain transformative results.
The novel is written in the third person, each chapter taking the perspective of a different character. This made some parts of the story fast-paced, as a certain scene could be split in several chapter following several perspectives. This allowed the reader to see what the other attendees in the retreat were pondering at these tense moments.
Moriatry also delves into the lives of each person, revealing the inner truths of how Tranquillum House entered their lives. The story didn’t have a central ‘dark character’, if you will, for each person carried a personal life struggle which led to their self-discovery. Moriarty also writes in the perspective of the health guru and her consultants. Their input in this tale further opens up a window into the past that gives clarity to the bigger picture.
I also appreciated how Moriarty writes about the power of social media’s influence in our society. Ben and Jessica, a married couple in the wellness retreat, were attending Tranquillum House for marriage counseling due to the wife’s obsession in her appearance, leading to a constant need for ‘Likes’ on her Instagram account. Frances Welty, a once best-selling author, was attending Tranquillum House after suffering her first huge rejection and poor feedback due to (according to her publisher) a lack of online traffic and resources. Both women suffered from the harsh eye of the internet, but for different reasons: Jessica was at the mercy of comparing herself to beauty’s entrapment, while Frances struggled to thrive under a publishing company run by a younger, social-media savvy generation.
‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ was a pretty good read, even with the periodic slow pace it contained. Reading about relationship struggles normally isn’t a preference for me, but this didn’t take away from the story.