Book Review: Nine Perfect Strangers

NINE PERFECT STRANGERS | Liane Moriarty
11.06.2018 | Flatiron Books
Rating: 2.5/5 stars

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Nine people have gathered at Tranquillum House for what they hope with be a ten-day journey at a health resort that will leave them refreshed and able to look at life with a new perspective afterwards. Each person has a unique reason for being here and a unique end goal they home to achieve. Who wouldn’t want to indulge in over a week of rest, pampering, and meditation? What they don’t realize is that this journey is going to be challenging and take them on a journey they could have never foreseen.

Frances Welty, a former best-selling romance writer, is checking herself into Tranquillum House after receiving the worst book review of her life on top of a broken heart. She can’t help but be curious what motivated the eight other guests staying with her to check themselves in. They all seem incredibly normal. The owner/director of this resort seems to embody everything Frances and the other guests strive to have in their lives. Fitness, healthy habits, and a connection to the self. What they don’t see coming is her ultimate plan for their experience.

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Sometimes your life changes so slowly and imperceptibly that you don’t notice it at all until one day you wake up and think, ‘How did I get here?’ But other times, life changes in an instant with a lightning stroke of good or bad luck with glorious or tragic consequences.

I have been a long time fan of Liane Moriarty, so when I found out she had a new book coming out last year and that it was a Book of the Month selection, I immediately jumped on purchasing it. I then started to see a flurry of mixed reviews come through and questioned if I wanted to dedicate my time to this 400+ page book when there were other books I knew I would love calling my name. A fellow bookworm recommended to me that I give the audiobook a listen instead. I’m always looking for an entertaining listen, but my library told me I was 50th in line for only a handful of copies! Enter January…I’ve finally listened to it and I have some mixed feelings.

In typical Liane Moriarty style this book floats the reader between several narratives and perspectives from a cast of characters. The reader is given a chance to meet each of the nine health resort guests, as well as the director and her staff. It’s a lot to take in at first, but luckily we have Frances to give us a hand. Frances is the favored narrator and a character I really came to enjoy reading about. Aside from Frances, however, there really weren’t that many characters I loved. The rest were simply okay for me, aside from Zoe who I also adored. I found people like Ben and Jessica to be incredibly annoying and disliked their sections. There were also people, like Carmel, who I felt I never really got to know.

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The lowest point of your life can lead to the highest.

In addition to an unequal interest in the characters of this book, I repeatedly found myself frustrated with the lack of action. I kept hoping that the plot was building up to something, but that never really happened. Yes, there’s what some would refer to as a twist, but I didn’t get a rush of excitement from it. I actually felt myself just wanting the book to end. I had a general feeling of “get to the point already” after the first half of the book.

You might be wondering…if you felt this way, why continue listening to the audiobook? At the end of the day there’s something about Liane Moriarty’s writing that kept drawing me in. Kept making me want to know more even if there was no point to the story. The book wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t written for me. I typically read in the crime fiction genre and have come to expect a revelation or an end goal, but I realize with contemporary fiction, this doesn’t always have to be the case. I was rewarded with a glimpse into the character’s lives weeks, months, and years after their time at Tranquillum House in the last few chapters. This made for a very satisfying end.

Additionally, I can speak nothing but praise for the narrator, Caroline Lee. She has a wonderful style and truly brought each character to life for me. I genuinely believe if I hadn’t been listening to this as an audiobook, I wouldn’t have made it all the way through. At the end of the day, my thought is that if you are a fan of contemporary fiction and/or Liane Moriarty, you should give the book a try. Just because something didn’t work for one reader, doesn’t mean it can’t work for you!

 

Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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