From the back…
Nine perfect strangers, each hiding an imperfect life.
A luxury retreat cut off from the outside world.
Ten days that promise to change your life.
But some promises – like some lives – are perfect lies . . .
So, this is the first novel I’ve read by Liane Moriarty and I went it to it completely blind, I hadn’t heard much about it, I was expecting a thriller/murder mystery tale….it isn’t a murder mystery, it did make me laugh.
The premise of this book is that nine strangers sign up to an extreme retreat in Australia. They’ve all agreed to do the ten-day cleanse. The promise is that they’ll leave feeling like completely different people at the end of the retreat.
Here’s the guests:
Frances, a middle-aged romance author feeling like she’s at crossroads.
Tony, a middle-aged man who’s had a health scare.
Carmel, a single mother whose husband has left her for a younger woman.
Lars, a divorce lawyer.
Jessica, a plastic surgery obsessed lottery winner.
Ben, Jessica’s car obsessed husband.
Heather and Napolean, a married couple grieving for their son.
Zoe, Heather and Napolean’s daughter.
They’re joined by the staff of Tranquillium House. Masha who runs it and her staff Yao and Delilah.
During the retreat the guests are asked to meditate, stay silent for four days, complete yoga sessions and embrace mindfulness. But everything is not as it seems.
Okay, this book isn’t going to be for everyone. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it. I’m not going to give any spoilers away, so forgive me if this review feels a little brief.
I took me a while to get into it, I wasn’t sure about the characters to begin with either and like I mentioned above, I was expecting a murder (I have no idea why this was in my head).
You could argue that this is like two books in one. The first half spent a lot of time on characterisation, the second half descended into craziness.
I quite liked Frances, I didn’t expect to. The first introduction to her, painted her as seemingly selfish, bad tempered, vain; however, I soon started to realise she was vulnerable and kind-hearted, if a little immature and ridiculous at times. I did like her though; I can’t say I felt strongly about any of the other characters, but I was invested in their backgrounds and what had brought them to the retreat.
I’d become intrigued by the premise – once I’d realised no one was going to be bumped off – and wanted to see how this story would end, what the characters would learn about themselves.
What happens and the climax of the tale, I could never have predicted in million years, it was utterly bizarre.
It pushed the boundaries of reality, it was silly, it felt like it came from nowhere and became ridiculous. Still I didn’t completely hate it.
Yeah, it caught me off guard, it had me saying ‘Eh?’ but it made me laugh. I enjoy a bit of the farcical and make no mistake about it, Nine Perfect Strangers becomes complete slapstick farce, it’s why I stuck with it instead of thinking ‘this is stupid and a waste of time’. I kept reading because it was funny, that’s no bad thing.
I can see why some people would hate it but for a book I knew nothing about, that challenged the expectation I started with, it was perfectly pleasant. It probably won’t stick with me forever but it was enjoyable.
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