Liane Moriarty is a very popular contemporary Australian writer, an international author with a reputation, recognised for4 her smash hit novels, including bestseller Big Little Lies, which became a highly successful TV series in 2017
She has had three books on the New York Times best-selling list The Husband’s Secret, Big Little Lies and Truly, Madly Deeply.
The recent publication of her newest novel Nine Perfect Strangers was much anticipated. This suspense thriller delivers another compelling read ideal for the up and coming holiday season.
Don’t read any more unless you want spoilers.
Liane Moriarty has written an absorbing story, one in which her finely tuned compassion and connection to people is explored and communicated in the shrewd, revealing appraisal and distinctive narratives of visitors and personnel at the wellness resort, Tranquillum House.
We are taken into the minds of the characters to discover the way they think, their motivations and the consequences of their actions and conversations. The reader can hear the voices of the nine strangers as the drama of the cleansing and personal transformation unfolds.
Chapter One is deftly constructed to form the reference framework for this chilling and gripping fictional account. Moriarty has created a structural scaffold where she introduces the protagonists and allows the background, identities and temperaments of her characters to be accessible and real to her readers.
Sinister hints are sparsely and discretely dispersed building to a threatening climax in this page-turning psychological thriller. Masha (Maria Dmitrichenko), the owner and director of Tranquillum House is obsessed with power, control and changing the lives of the nine strangers.
‘They were hers for the next ten days, hers to teach and nurture, to shape into the people they could be, should be.’ Masha is aided and abetted in the pursuit of the cleansing and personal transformation of her group of paying guests, by senior staff members Yao and Delilah. They implement procedures, administer concoctions, monitor and evaluate the progress of the nine strangers.
Marsha’s egotistical nature is incongruously trapped in her own bizarre web of wellness, charisma and beauty.
She ruthlessly employs her strength of purpose, power, energy and force to manipulate. Her intoxicating strategies are ruthless and menacing, supposedly adhering to an effortless and righteous mode of therapy.
The diverse group of nine clients have selected this expensive remote health resort for varying reasons and Moriarty chronicles their histories with a sense of fun, humour and mischievousness.
She tempers these aspects with compassion, understanding, unsettling discoveries and wisdom. Their journeys are crafted by Moriarty’s astute observations of humanity and clarity of style.
Frances Welty is a highly successful commercial romance author whose recent novel has been rejected for publication. She is desperately trying to recover from a broken heart and gain relief for a painful back.
Frances has the observant eyes of a writer and is hoping to be open to the possibilities of wellness through the ‘unconventional life changing’ approach at the health retreat.
Lars Lee, a highly successful divorce lawyer, makes it a habit of attending health retreats so that the cleansing affords him the right to return to his recalcitrant ways.
Lars blasé and taken for granted attitude towards his partner Ray demands change. He desperately needs to learn the art of compromise and giving to create stability and endurance in their relationship.
Ben Chandler is obsessed with his car and finding great difficulty connecting to his wife Jessica since their fortunes have changed. Wealth has totally altered the basis and balance within their marriage.
Ben longs for his former simple life, the routine of work and friendly colleagues. He begrudgingly agrees with his wife that they need ‘to do something dramatic’ in order to save their marriage. For Ben this retreat has the possibility of fixing their unbearable marital situation.
Jessica is caught in the confusing essence of the world’s dangerous obsession with physical perfection and the flawlessness derived from a formula driven equation that thin and plastic rule supreme in the beauty stakes.
Her insecurity and distance from her husband Ben have driven her commitment to the holistic approach of this boutique exclusive and isolated venue with the hope of saving her marriage.
Heather Marconi is an irritable woman and suffers from the excruciating pain of grief and guilt that is also shared by her husband Napoleon and daughter Zoe. Heather is a ‘fragile’ and remote woman, tormented by guilt and buried in introversion and detachment.
Her loving, gentle husband, Napoleon is a high school geography teacher. He is gutted and depleted by loss and remorse but stoically fights to assume a calmness and strength of purpose to keep his family afloat.
Their daughter Zoe’s ‘mini’ panic attacks are triggered by her past memories and the grief that has created the empty space within her heart. The responsibility for her parents is relentless and exhausting. Zoe’s conscience lulls her into a life based on endurance.
Tony Hogburn is still coming to terms with his past short lived reign as a football star, his seemingly elusive relationship with his children and grandchildren, finding a place in the present that is bearable and coming to terms with a five year separation from his wife.
Carmel Schneideris suffers low self-esteem and is tormented by a thwarted image of her body and a husband who left her for a younger woman. She is a devoted and loving mother to her four young daughters, but exhausted by an enormous solo parenting responsibility.
Moriarty brings the story of a ten day cleansing regime full of twists and turns to a bewildering conclusion. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty has an intriguing story line, suspenseful action, pensive tension, and addresses challenging and dramatic questions. It is ‘perfect’ recreational reading for the holidays ahead.
Rose Niland, NSW Special Features, The Culture Concept Circle, 2018