Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

As an avid fan of Liane Moriarty’s books, I found this one to be rather flat. I’m pretty disappointed I recommended Nine Perfect Strangers to my Atlanta Social Book Club. I heard rave reviews about this on social media, and was so excited to read another one of Moriarty’s books; but this was definitely not one of her best.

The idea of self-improvement, weight loss and even marriage counseling brings together nine strangers to Tranquillum House, an exclusive health resort in a remote part of Australia. From a once best-selling romance author, Frances, to a young married couple whose relationship has seen better days, Ben and Jessica; these three and the others are promised in only ten days that their lives will be changed forever, but at what cost?

From the hints by employees and even the demeanour of the owner, Masha, there is more than meets the eye at this retreat. What can a little yoga, meditation, hikes and even smoothies do to help these nine strangers achieve their goals? Well, it certainly wasn’t something legal.

I think I went into this book with too high of hopes. I’ve enjoyed many of Moriarty’s books; Big Little Lies, The Husband’s Secret, and Truly Madly Guilty, but this was certainly not what I thought it was going to be. It was extremely slow to get into, it honestly took me weeks to finish. I’m someone who reads a book in one sitting, maybe two, never more than a week.

The title kind of sold me on the idea there were going to be many characters, but in total there were actually 11 people the reader had to keep up with. From the back stories, the dialogues and plots weaving together, at times, I forget which character I was reading about and had to go back to the beginning of the chapters to find out.

With many of Moriarty’s other books, I felt like I was on the edge of my seating anxiously waiting to get to the end — to the explosive twist ending. With Nine Perfect Strangers I was  on the edge of my seat laughing at how over-the-top the plots were getting and wondering how much further Moriarty was going to take it — to the point where it was really hard to believe.

While I found this book hard to read, I can’t put aside the writing that Moriarty is always so impeccable with. One of the lines from Nine Perfect Strangers that really struck me was from the character Zoe, who was describing the grief she was facing with her brother’s suicide:

She had not realized that grief was so physical. Before Zack died, she thought grief happened in your head. She didn’t know that your whole body ached with it….You wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy.

Beyond this profound description of grief, Nine Perfect Strangers was a serious letdown compared to Moriarty’s other books I’ve read. I’m pretty heartbroken in having to give this rating, but I will say if you’re looking for a good laugh, this book will not disappoint. But it’ll certainly take you forever to get there!

2-5-stars

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