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Nine Perfect Strangers
GENRE: Mainstream Fiction
Nine guests in search of transformation check into Tranquillum House, a wellness spa created by the charismatic Masha Dmitrichenko. But Masha is taking her wellness resort in a different direction, and the nine guests are her first to experience the new regime. The question is: will they survive it?
Liane Moriarty is the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers Big Little Lies, The Husband’s Secret, and Truly Madly Guilty; the New York Times bestsellers Apples Never Fall, Nine Perfect Strangers, What Alice Forgot, and The Last Anniversary; The Hypnotist’s Love Story; and Three Wishes. She lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband and two children. - goodreads.com
Nine people gather at a luxurious health resort in the Australian bushland. Will they have sex, fall in love, get killed, or maybe just lose weight? Moriarty (Truly Madly Guilty, 2014, etc.) is known for darkly humorous novels set in the suburbs of Sydney—though her most famous book , Big Little Lies (2014), has been transported to Monterey, California, by Reese Witherspoon's HBO series. Her new novel moves away from the lives of prosperous parents to introduce a more eclectic group of people who've signed up for a 10-day retreat at Tranquillium House, a remote spa run by the messianic Masha, "an extraordinary-looking woman. A supermodel. An Olympic athlete. At least six feet tall, with corpse-like white skin and green eyes so striking and huge they were almost alien-like." This was the moment when the guests should probably have fled, but they all decided to stay (perhaps because their hefty payments were nonrefundable?). The book's title is slightly misleading, since not all the guests are strangers to each other. There are two family groups: Ben and Jessica Chandler, a young couple whose relationship broke down after they won the lottery, and the Marconis, Napolean and Heather and their 20-year-old daughter, Zoe, who are trying to recover after the death of Zoe's twin brother, Zach. Carmel Schneider is a divorced housewife who wants to get her mojo back, Lars Lee is an abnormally handsome divorce lawyer who's addicted to spas, and Tony Hogburn is a former professional footballer who wants to get back into shape. Though all these people have their own chapters, the main character is Frances Welty, a romance writer who needs a pick-me-up after having had her latest novel rejected and having been taken in by an internet scam—she fell in love with a man she met on Facebook and sent money to help his (nonexistent) son, who'd been in a (nonexistent) car accident. How humiliating for a writer to fall for a fictional person, Frances thinks, in her characteristically wry way. When the guests arrive, they're given blood tests (why?) and told they're going to start off with a five-day "noble silence" in which they're not even supposed to make eye contact with each other. As you can imagine, something fishy is going on, and while Moriarty displays her usual humor and Frances in particular is an appealing character, it's all a bit ridiculous. Fun to read, as always with Moriarty's books, but try not to think about it or it will stop making sense. (Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2018).
Moriarty (Truly Madly Guilty, 2016) continues her exploration of characters with comfortable lives who can't help but make themselves uncomfortable. This time she takes on nine guests at a wellness retreat: a romance writer who is fading in popularity; a young married couple; a very handsome lawyer; a teacher, his wife, and their adult daughter; a divorced mother; and a familiar-looking middle-aged man. Tranquillum House, a nineteenth-century mansion in the middle of nowhere in Australia, has been converted to a well-guarded sanctuary, with yoga rooms, fruit smoothies, and an aggressively beautiful leader. Masha Dmitrichenko, emboldened by past success, plans to initiate this group into her new protocol, one that will shake up the wellness world. It's hard to share details, since each reveal is a delicious surprise. Like she did in Big Little Lies (2014), Moriarty uses several narrators to tell the whole tale, and though some story lines get more attention than others, readers will find themselves flipping through the nearly 500 pages. But even at that length, Nine Perfect Strangers is so well written and slyly constructed that it won't feel like enough. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Moriarty's considerable fan base has waited two long years for this one, so be prepared. -- Susan Maguire (Reviewed 10/1/2018) (Booklist, vol 115, number 3, p23).
/* Starred Review */ Send a motley crew of hurting but comfortably heeled Aussies to a secluded resort for a pricey 10-day “Mind and Body Total Transformation Retreat” and what happens? In this cannily plotted, continually surprising, and frequently funny page-turner from bestseller Moriarty (Big Little Lies), nothing like the restorative reset they’re anticipating. The nine guests at Tranquillum House include middle-aged romance writer Frances Welty, her normal spunkiness shaken by recent personal and professional setbacks, and 20-year-old Zoe Marconi, there with her parents on the anniversary of the family tragedy that shattered their lives. What they haven’t reckoned on is Tanquillum House’s messianic but precariously stable director, whose secret agenda could be dangerous to their health. It would be unsporting to disclose more about Moriarty’s largely endearing cast, since her progressive revelations about them contribute so much toward making this such a deeply satisfying thriller. Moriarty delivers yet another surefire winner. Author tour. Agent: Faye Bender, Faye Bender Literary. (Nov.) --Staff (Reviewed 09/24/2018) (Publishers Weekly, vol 265, issue 39, p).
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