Nine Perfect Strangers: A retreat to make changes in their lives becomes a bizarre, scary experience
Nine Perfect Strangers, Liane Moriarty
Genre: General Fiction
Published 2018; 453 pages
“Frances had struggled to explain that strangers were by definition interesting. It was their strangeness. The not-knowing. Once you knew everything there was to know about someone, you were generally ready to divorce them.”
“How was she going to cope without instant answers to idle questions?” (no phones, computers, etc. allowed at the resort)
I read many online reviews of this book and they vary greatly between people who either loved or hated this book. I loved it.
Set in Australia at a resort called the Tranquillum House, these nine people have signed up for what they expect to be a relaxing and pleasurable stay 10-day stay at a beautiful mansion. Frances (who is a hoot) is the main focus for much of the beginning of the book and you wonder why so little attention is being given to the remaining eight people – but gradually they each appear and their characters are also fleshed out. There are a couple of the characters that I found a bit boring, especially Carmel. You learn that each of them has an issue they are dealing with, some more serious than others (including a suicide).
It starts benignly enough with a tour and food and drinks and introductions, including Masha the director of the House, and Yao and Delilah, her assistants. But as the “clients” are subjected to increasingly bizarre routines, things turn scary. One asks at a group session: “Have you been medicating us?”
It’s a little bit of a crazy book, maybe you need to suspend disbelief a bit, but hey, crazy things happen in life. You’re going along and things are “normal”, until they aren’t!
The end has a brief wrap-up with where they all are and what they’re doing months and, for some, even years later. This is a fast, very entertaining read.
photo by Terrie Purkey, Hopsewee mansion, So Carolina