“Nine Perfect Strangers”

“Nine Perfect Strangers” is somewhat of a departure from Liane Moriarty’s previous books. The book opens with a medical emergency in the office of a high-profile businesswoman, too busy to let paramedics interfere with her work.

Later, nine people arrive at Tranquillum House, a remote and very expensive resort, for a ten-day retreat, rejuvenation, reconnection, and rebuilding of relationships. They have diverse and detailed backgrounds, unique and different personalities, and complex and varied problems. They come with psychological baggage as well as physical baggage filled with forbidden items such as electronics, alcohol, and snacks that are immediately confiscated.

Moriarty introduces them one by one, as they settle in and prepare for the meditation, weight loss, and rebirth promised by the director. The plot is character driven, and readers get to know the diverse players through their thoughts and conversations. In typical Moriarty style, things happen behind the scenes that direct the journey to wellness, and readers learn that both the nine and the Tranquillum House staff have secrets — deep dark secrets.

As the nine continue on their journey, their startling secrets are revealed layer by layer, item by item, trauma by trauma. The nine are seeking answers, but readers find questions. Who will lose weight and who will lose his/her mind? Will they reconnect with family or disconnect from the world? Will they find inner peace or universal chaos? Does Tranquillum House provide valuable therapy or something else? I listened to the audio book of “Nine Perfect Strangers.” Caroline Lee did an excellent job of voicing the very large diverse cast, and I had no trouble discerning the players. It is a long book, but Tranquillum House, its unusual guests, and even stranger staff kept me listening all the way to the odd, surprising, and yet satisfying end.