Reviewed by Olivia at Angus & Robertson
There is a certain kind of comfort that comes from settling down with a Liane Moriarty novel. In many ways, you know exactly what you’re going to get - complex characters in sticky situations, brimming with under-the-surface tension - but what you can never predict is just how the drama will unfold. There’s no mistaking that inimitable Moriarty style, and I’m happy to report that her latest novel, Nine Perfect Strangers, has it in spades.
Liane is the queen of the domestic thriller, but with Nine Perfect Strangers she lays her considerable talents to skewering the “wellness” industry and its hypocrisies. Nine (not-so) perfect strangers meet at rural resort Tranquillum House, some hoping for a miracle while others are just there to run away from their problems. They’re anticipating ten days of hot stone massages, yoga and green smoothies, but for unconventional resort director Masha, nothing short of total self-reinvention will do. To say any more would be to spoil the book’s many surprises, but rest assured that you can expect some truly outlandish twists.
The plot may be sensational, but it’s the unique cast of characters that makes Nine Perfect Strangers really tick. This cast is a motley bunch, including a romance novelist fading into obscurity, a young couple with more money than sense, and a divorced mother with terrible self-esteem brought on by middle-age and her ex-husband’s younger, prettier wife. Self-absorbed and vulnerable they may be, but Moriarty is an intelligent writer who never lets these characters become caricatures. Instead, she lets them ridicule and redeem themselves in little ways, weaving their stories together so that their vulnerabilities rub up against each other. Judgments are made, alliances are formed, and prejudices are slowly softened, and Moriarty captures it all with unflinching compassion. You can’t help but root for these lovable strangers despite their failings.
A new Liane Moriarty novel is always cause for celebration and Nine Perfect Strangers is the triumph we’ve all been waiting for since Truly, Madly, Guilty. Unpredictable and wild as it can be, this book will leave you with one irrefutable grain of wisdom: that self-delusion is a hell of a drug, even when it’s dressed in yoga pants.