Nine Perfect Strangers – Liane Moriarty

‘In ten days, you will not be the person you are now.’ 

Ten days at a health and wellness retreat. Five of those days spent in silence. Bliss! But you can’t read or write during them. Hold on. What is this place?!

Masha, the director of Tranquillum House, is keen to implement her new protocol. 

Nine people were depending on her. Nine perfect strangers who would soon become like family. 

Stranger 1: Frances, formerly a bestselling romance novelist, has back pain, a bad cold and a paper cut. We hear about her paper cut a lot. 

I’m only temporarily tragic 

Stranger 2: Jessica is married to Ben and loves plastic surgery, maybe more than she loves Ben. 

She couldn’t shake the feeling that if she didn’t record this moment on her phone then it wasn’t really happening, it didn’t count, it wasn’t real life. 

Stranger 3: Ben is married to Jessica and loves his car, maybe more than he loves Jessica. 

He avoided looking at her. He was trying really hard to get over that. 

Stranger 4: Heather, a midwife, is at Tranquillum House with her husband, Napoleon, and daughter, Zoe. 

The rage hit her with the power and momentum of a contraction during active labour. There was no escaping it. 

Stranger 5: Napoleon, a schoolteacher in a disadvantaged area, loves to talk. He’s at Tranquillum House with his wife and daughter. 

But he wasn’t broken. 

Stranger 6: Zoe, who just broke up with her boyfriend, is at Tranquillum House with her parents. 

She tried so hard to be everything for them while they tried so hard to pretend that she wasn’t their only reason for living. 

Stranger 7: Tony runs a sports marketing consultancy and has brilliant tattoos. 😃😃 

Tony would never forget the shocking clarity of the moment that followed. 

Stranger 8: Carmel has four children and is at Tranquillum House to lose weight. 

‘I love everything about this place’ 

Stranger 9: Lars is a family lawyer. 

‘I’m a health-retreat junkie. I indulge and atone, indulge and atone. It works for me.’ 

With a gorgeous location and mandatory smoothies six times a day, our health retreat participants are hopeful that they will go home changed. For the better. All of them have their issues but I suspected from early on that the ethereal Masha might have more than her share.

Reading this book felt like I was bingeing an entire season of a soap opera at once. I don’t mean that as criticism; soap operas are fun to binge. There’s so much drama. The plot lines are delightfully over the top while just barely staying within the realms of possibility. 

I loved the drama of this book and I loved the personalities all bouncing off one another (after they were allowed to speak, that is). Although I laughed at the absurdity of some of the things that happened, nothing happened that I couldn’t imagine actually happening off the page. The entire read felt like a guilty pleasure.

New favourite word: toska. 

There was no adequate English word to describe the kind of anguished longing she felt for something she could not have and did not even want. 

Most of Liane’s books already live in my Kindle’s black hole of good intentions and I loved bingeing Big Little Lies. I’ve been planning to binge this series, too, but wanted to read the book first this time. Now that I’ve read it, I’m even more intrigued to watch Nicole Kidman as Masha and see how it all plays out outside of my imagination. 

This was not how it was supposed to go. 

Content warnings include addiction, death by suicide (including the method used), domestic abuse and mental health.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? 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.

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