Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Book Review (holiday reads #4): NINE PERFECT STRANGERS by Liane Moriarty


Author: Liane Moriarty
Publisher: Macmillan Australia
Read: September 2018
Expected publication: out now
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟1/2

"She had always wondered how she would feel if her life was in mortal danger. What would she do if her plane began to plummet towards earth? If a crazed gunman put the barrel to her head? If she was ever truly tested? Now she knew: she wouldn’t believe it. She would keep thinking right until the last word that her story would never stop, because there could be no story without her."

Book Description:

Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? In Liane Moriarty’s latest page-turner, nine perfect strangers are about to find out...

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question. 

My musings:

I have had this book on my wishlist ever since I found out that Moriarty was releasing a new novel this year, so I was overjoyed that the publishing date coincided with my holidays! The thing I have always loved best about Moriarty's writing is her ability to mix poignant tales of human nature with a sprinkling of tongue- in-cheek Australian humour, a combination that will see you crying one minute and laughing out loud the next. It didn't take long for me to get sucked into the emotional rollercoaster of Nine Perfect Strangers and I was soon wiping away tears – mostly of laughter, as Moriarty has an uncanny ability to reveal her characters' most innermost thoughts in such a relatable and funny manner that it was impossible not to root for each and every one of her characters.

So here we follow the lives of nine strangers who have signed up for a ten-day health retreat run by an ex-corporate power woman who promises total transformation and healing. From the time the guests first arrive, we get to know some of the reasons that brought them here. As with her previous books, Moriarty is not afraid to tackle serious issues such as depression & suicide, marital discord, body image issues, aging, cultural differences etc., but she does so in such a sensitive manner that this story remains uplifting and hopeful despite the challenges and adversity our characters face. Halfway into the book, the story forays into the realm of psychological suspense as the nine strangers must face an unexpected turn of events. I love stories of random strangers thrown together and having to come to terms not only with a scary and threatening event or situations, but also the tension caused by different personalities. Moriarty, with her uncanny ability to bring out her characters’ deepest darkest secrets and her keen observation skills, tackles this aspect of the story particularly well.

Whilst I mentioned before that each character was relatable in their own unique way (which is a skill not often achieved), I most identified with Frances, who provided one of the main POVs in the story. Her refreshing and funny insights into life’s challenges made me laugh out loud many times, punching the air and hollering: Yes! Exactly! Whilst most of Frances' issues related to her age when she is reflecting on her life and career choices, a lot of topics referred to modern womanhood and its challenges. I loved the honest warts-and-all approach of being privy to all of Frances' thoughts, one of the things the author does so well.

I have heard that the movie rights to this book have already been sold, and -unpopular opinion alert – may be the only one not overly excited by this, as I have found in the past that a lot of Moriary’s unique Aussie humour gets lost in translation. So do yourself a favour and read the book before the movie, because it is just so damn funny!

I devoured this hefty book in a couple of sessions – and loved every minute of it.

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