Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

‘There’s nothing wrong with me.’

Nine people gather at Tranquillum House, a remote health resort for ten days.  They each have a reason for being there, they each hope that to find the answers and the change they are looking for.

The nine people are Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romance author; Ben and Jessica, a young couple struggling with relationship issues; Napoleon, Heather and Zoe Marconi, grieving for their lost son and brother; Lars, who has an important issue to consider; Carmel, whose self-esteem is non-existent after her husband left her for a younger woman; and Tony, a former football star who is lonely and is trying to turn his life around.

Mindfulness and meditation.  Silence.  Tailored diets.  Masha, the director of Tranquillum House, has it all worked out.  Does she have all the answers?  How will she change the lives of these nine perfect strangers?

I’ve enjoyed some of Ms Moriarty’s other novels (I haven’t read them all) and I picked up this novel looking for a little light relief.  And, reader, I got a little more than I bargained for.  I really enjoyed the first half of the novel, getting to know each of the characters gradually and learning what they were trying to change.  And then, the story took a turn which almost had me abandoning it.  While I never really came to terms with that turn (no spoilers here) I kept reading because I needed to know how Ms Moriarty would finish the story.  I mean, I know these nine people now, and I needed to know how their stories would end.

There’s some great humour, some terrific observations and some very human characters.  While I’m not reconciled to the turn that almost had me abandoning the read, that’s a personal reaction, not a reflection on Ms Moriarty’s writing.

I did enjoy the story, and I’m still thinking about a couple of aspects of it.  But no, I won’t be booking into a health resort any time soon.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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