Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: drugs, near-death, adultery, sex, relationships, death, suicide.
Goodreads Rating: 4.5 Stars
I have seen a lot of mixed reviews about Nine Perfect Strangers, but I managed to snag a copy from a library book sale for $3 and figured it was worth giving a chance. I had been previously disappointed by Moriarty with her novel Madly Truly Guilty, but I loved Big Little Lies and was hoping this might bolster my faith in Moriarty’s writing. Of course, being me, I sat on that hard copy for about 4 months before I decided to see if I could find an audiobook version to bump it up in the TBR line, and I did.
Narrated by Caroline Lee and her animated Australian accent, the audience is introduced to author Frances Welty, as she struggles to keep her romance novel writing career alive in the throws of middle-aged woes. She decides to attend a retreat, where she meets eight other guests hoping for a spiritual and relaxing experience.
The 450 page novel (and 16+ hour audio) is a bit of a chunk, and Moriarty takes her time with her character development, allowing the readers to get comfortable both at Tranquillum House, the retreat, and with the backstories of her band of characters. This is where many readers seem to get derailed- where is all the action? But at about 300 pages (or about 10 hours into the audio), things get CRAZY, and if the audience is still tuned in, they’re in for wild ride to the finish.
The pacing of this novel would usually throw me off, but I LOVED what Moriarty did here, and I wasn’t expecting a lot of what was revealed at the turn of events. I think the audiobook was the trick in keeping me interested, as Caroline Lee did a wonderful job giving these characters a voice and a clear image in my imagination. This, mixed with Moriarty’s surprise plot twist, made for a dramatic and entertaining read that I absolutely enjoyed. I can’t possibly say more without spoilers, but I say if you were on the fence of reading this novel, find a copy of the audiobook through your library and give it a listen.
- Masha: The Russian mogul-turned-guru that runs Tranquillum House, the retreat center.
- Yao: an ex-EMT who saved Masha’s life prior to becoming her assistant at Tranquillum.
- Frances: an author with a struggling career who loses a book deal, suffers from menopause, and despite her romance novel success has struggled to find her own happy ending.
- Tony: an ex-footballer (that’s soccer to us Americans) who is seeping into depression and seeking meaning to his life.
- Carmel: Mom of four whose husband divorces and leaves her for a younger woman, at the retreat to lose weight and gain confidence.
- Lars: a gay divorce lawyer who balances his work life between benders and retreats.
- Jessica and Ben: married couple who win the lottery and come to the retreat for marriage counselling. Jessica has taken to social media and body modifications in order to keep Ben attracted- Ben has become addicted to his Lamborghini.
- Heather, Napoleon, and Zoe: A couple (Heather and Napoleon) who bring their daughter (Zoe) to Tranquillum for family therapy in order to confront and overcome the grief caused by the loss of their son, Zach, during the anniversary of his death.
TL/DR: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty is a novel about nine people, each with their own problems, who decide to go to a wellness retreat only to find their lives in utter chaos by it’s completion.
Published: September 2018
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Read it? Yes! This is the Moriarty readers came to expect after Big Little Lies.
Recommend it? Definitely, and especially the audiobook.
Buy it? Yes, I think Moriarty fans won’t be disappointed with this one if they purchase it.
If you liked this novel or review, check out these similar reads:
- Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
- Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser
- The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand