Review by Sarah McDuling
Like many people, my favourite Liane Moriarty book has always been Big Little Lies. A super popular bestseller even before it became a super popular TV show – Big Little Lies was the book responsible for propelling me into a feverish phase during which I devoured Moriarty’s entire back catalogue.
Nine Perfect Strangers may well be my new favourite Liane Moriarty book, or at least tied for first place with Big Little Lies. I don’t know. Trying to rank these books is mentally exhausting – but suffice to say it’s a very close call.
With Nine Perfect Strangers, Moriarty has moved slightly away from the “domestic noir” genre. Sort of. This book thrums with suspense. It contains that same thrilling sense of mystery and discovery that I have come to associate with with this author – but at this same time it feels different from her previous novels. Maybe simply because this time the setting is not suburban? Or perhaps it’s the number of characters that Moriarty is juggling this time? Either way Nine Perfect Strangers achieved a rare and wondrous miracle for me. It felt fresh and new and totally surprising, while still delivering the same exact ‘Moriarty magic’ that I both wanted and expected.
Set in a remote health-and-wellness retreat, presided over by a very intriguing and charismatic guru figure, Nine Perfect Strangers introduces us to nine different characters with very little in common. Each has a compelling reason for coming to the retreat. Some seek healing while others wish to be transformed. Some have utterly heartbreaking backstories while others are running from embarrassments, mistakes, failures and fears.
These characters are to die for. Lovable, idiosyncratic and larger than life – I laughed and cried and wished and hoped and grieved alongside each and every one of them. As per usual, when it comes to Liane Moriarty’s keenly insightful writing, the characters are so well-crafted, nuanced and endearing that I felt a wrench of sorrow to part with them at the end of the book.
And the plot! Obviously it’s hard to discuss without giving away spoilers (which I promise I will not do!) but the plot of Nine Perfect Strangers takes some very interesting and unpredictable turns. This book is quite outrageous and totally unexpected in the best possible way. It’s a wild ride, outright hilarious at times, deeply poignant at others, and delightfully clever throughout.
There’s really nothing I like more than a story which gathers together an unlikely group of misfits who start out as strangers and end up forming unexpected bonds. This book does exactly that, with such amazing style and grace that I’m already looking forward to my first re-read.
Nine Perfect Strangers
The ten-day retreat at boutique health-and-wellness resort Tranquillum House promises healing and transformation. Nine stressed city dwellers are keen to drop their literal and mental baggage and absorb the blissful meditative ambience while enjoying their hot stone massages. They are all on a path to a better way of living. Or at least a better waistline . . .
Watching over them is the resort's director, a woman on a mission to reinvigorate these tired bodies and minds. But to what lengths will she go to achieve her goal?
These nine perfect strangers have no idea what's about to hit them.
About the Contributor
Sarah McDuling is Booktopia's Senior Content Producer and Editor of The Booktopian Blog. She has been in the bookselling game for almost a decade and a dedicated booklover since birth (potentially longer). At her happiest when reading a book, Sarah also enjoys talking/writing/tweeting about books. In her spare time, she often likes to buy a lot of books and take photographs of books. You can follow her on Twitter and Instragram @sarahmcduling
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