Let me first start by saying that I am a little biased on this novel because Liane Moriarty is my favorite author of all time. As a teenager, I fell head over heels for Nicholas Sparks, but as an adult, I wanted more reality in my imaginary love life. Moriarty writes novels for adults. Her stories are in the third point of view that focuses usually on multiple different character’s perspectives. Moriarty lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband and two children. So naturally, all her books are set somewhere in Australia. If you’re not used to biscuits, mates, and flats you might need to look up a few terms on urban dictionary. Once you get past that you’ll be lost in a realistic love story with her infamous revelations at the end. You’ll appreciate that all her characters have flaws and very distinct personalities. If you thought this is where Moriarty’s greatness ends, you would be mistakenly wrong. Reading her novels feels like you become her main characters and live out their lives. Each page feels like a new day and adds excitement to the mundane of life.
Nine perfect strangers is different than what you’d expect from Moriarty, but it’s thrilling to read. Nine strangers arrive at a health retreat called the Tranquillum House. The Tranquillum house is a Victorian mansion (princess tower included), built in 1840, hidden behind a locked gate with an intercom on a bumpy dirt road (if this house was yellow it would be my dream home). This health resort is known for it’s “unconventional treatments”. The heart of this story lies within the strangers naturally as that is the title. There are a couple minor characters: Yao and Delilah (wellness consultants), Masha (the director), and one of my favorites Jan (the massage therapist). In order of their point of view chapters:
Yao: At the start of the book(ten years before the story begins) he is a trainee paramedic on his first day and third call-out. It’s there that he meets a woman that will change his life. Her name is Masha Dmitrichenko. Masha goes into full cardiac arrest before him. Within a few chapters it is revealed that ten years later he is a wellness consultant at the Tranquillum House. His boss happens to be none other than Masha. Throughout the book we learn that he has a deep-rooted fear of making mistakes. Yao has casual sex with the other wellness consultant Delilah. Although, he basically worships Masha.
Frances: A formerly bestselling romantic novelist who, when you first meet her, is experiencing lower back pain, a bad cold, a disappearing man (Paul Drabble), and hot flushes/flashes. With blonde curly hair, glasses, and an average body she’s an average fiftyish woman. She has two ex-husbands and a recently awful ending to a hopeful relationship. Frances feels left behind in her industry and doesn’t want to keep up with the new rules. She comes to the Tranquillum House for a break from her hectic life. Through the book her main struggles are how to not see herself as a fictional romance character in one of her novels, getting over a bad review, and recovering from Paul Drabble. Frances has the most chapters in the book and it’s obvious that Moriarty did this as an alternate reality for her real life.
Lars: A handsome man with a partner of fifteen years named Ray. He is a family lawyer who represents wealthy women being divorced by husbands looking for trophy wives as a mid-life crisis prize. Lars considers himself a health resort junkie. He checks into the Tranquillum House to get his ritual cleanse. His main struggle through the book is whether he’s enough for his partner even though he denies Ray his dream of starting a family, and his worthiness of love.
Ben: A twenty-something man married to his high school sweetheart Jessica who won the lottery shortly after being robbed. Before winning the lottery, he worked at a mechanic shop and afterwards bought a canary-yellow Lamborghini. Ben’s at the Tranquillum House because his wife Jessica suggested that they come there for couples counseling to help heal their marriage. A root cause of their marital problems stems from Jessica’s distrust in his drug addict sister Lucy (yes, there is a “Lucy in the sky with diamonds” reference). The other main cause of their stay is the Lamborghini that he treasures and his wife’s new appearance after cosmetic surgery.
Jessica: A twenty-something girl married to ben, her high school sweetheart. She and Ben fall on hard times when their house gets robbed. Jessica’s life changes drastically when her mother-in-law sends a card with a lottery ticket to them. Even though they won the lottery, she tries to manage their money smartly with the exceptions of cosmetic surgery and a new pair of breasts. Jessica finds that her husband loses interest in her and seems to show more affection towards his car than her. She gets so jealous as to even key his car. Jessica keeps busy though with her social media presence and charity balls. Her main struggle throughout the books is how to rekindle the love in her marriage and how to undo the damage that winning the lottery had done.
Masha: A decade before the present-day story, Masha was a corporate head of a dairy company. She was an unhealthy stubborn workaholic. Masha goes into full cardiac arrest and has a near-death experience where she is enlightened. She then decides that she is going to be healthy and commit her life to helping others. Masha bought and renovated the Tranquilum House. After keeping in touch with Yao and her old PA(personal assistant) Delilah, she hires them as wellness companions. Masha came to Australia from Russia with her ex-husband, but tragedy tore them apart. Now she is the director of the Tranqillum House and is trying out a new treatment while suppressing the grief of the tragic loss in her past.
Heather: A middle-aged woman with a type A personality that is constantly busy to avoid the turmoil in her life. Three years ago, her son (Zach) died unexpectantly leaving her with guilt-stricken grief. She tries to hide away the pain and despises her husband for his inability to let go of his son’s death. Heather now makes her daughter’s life her priority. Her daughter (Zoe) suggested Tranquillum House as a way to leave their house and to hopefully have a healing experience during this year’s anniversary. Heather’s main struggle throughout the book is how to let go of the guilt she feels for her son’s death and to stop trying to bubble wrap her daughter.
Zoe: A twenty-year-old woman stuck in an abnormal life because of the unexpected death of her twin brother Zach. She tries to tip toe around her parents and live a seemingly perfect life to spare her parents anymore heartbreak. In reality, she obsesses over the guilt of her brother’s death and that she once told a friend that she wasn’t that close to her brother after his passing. Zoe’s brother died the day before their birthday and so she decided that she would celebrate her birthday on March 17th(her grandmother’s birthday). Zoe suggested the Tranquillium House to her parents as a way to get them all out of their house for the anniversary of Zach’s death. Her main struggle throughout the book is coping with her brother’s death and her inability to move forward in life without him.
Tony: An overweight middle-aged man with a secret past of a glorious life. He now mopes around his house and runs a sports-marketing consultancy. Tony mourns the death of this most recent companion: his dog Banjo. He has an ex-wife, two sons and a daughter, and three granddaughters that do Irish dancing in Holland. Tony feels as though his children feel he is a burden that they have to check in on. He yearns to have a better relationship with them and his grandchildren like his ex-wife does. After an enlightening doctor’s visit, Tony checked into the Tranquilum House for weight loss and another shot at his second act. His main struggles throughout the book are finding a way to get back his once excitement filled life and reconnect with his children and grandchildren.
Carmel: A thirty-nine-year-old woman who used to work in private equity and love it. Now she’s has a part time entry-level job, is the primary caregiver for her children and teaches refugees English. Carmel shares four daughters with her ex-husband who left her for a hot younger woman with a PHD. She is jealous of his ex-husband’s fiancé and her “perfect” body (even though she has an average-sized figure). She constantly ridicules her own body and wishes she had a new slimmer one. So naturally she’s come to the Tranquillum House for weight loss. Her main struggles throughout the book are her inability to stop obsessing about her body/weight and her desire to have a more fulfilling life.
Napoleon: A middle-aged high school math teacher who is praised by mothers. He is a smart, witty, talkative person. Napoleon has a wife and daughter. His ability to stay calm is a coverup for his suppressed grief of the unexpected death of this son. Napoleon hides his grief around his family to be their support. By doing this he unknowingly distances himself from his wife and puts more strain on their relationship. Napoleon tried/tries to be a perfect parent that can fix anything. Napoleon comes to the Tranquillum House with his family to try to heal his family from the tragedy they all endured. His main struggles throughout the book are coming to terms with the guilt he keeps hidden from his family, and his desire to heal his family from his son’s death.
Delilah: A wellness consultant who reveals herself to have been Masha’s PA(personal assistant) a decade ago when Masha was in the corporate world. She has casual sex with Yao and insists that he is in love with Masha. Delilah doesn’t believe in Masha’s “transformative” treatments. She has a no bullshit attitude but pretends to be fully committed to Masha and the Tranquillum House. When talking to guests in secret she loses her façade and acts as a peace keeper between the guests and Masha.
Jan: A massage therapist that oddly only gives Frances massages until the near end of the book. She is described as a tall woman with a buzz cut. Jan reveals to Frances that she has a boyfriend named Gus who’s a police officer. She isn’t fully committed to the treatments offered at the Tranquillum house and ends up playing a crucial part in the safety of the guests.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you. I know this is a lengthy post. so I appreciate you reading it all. I wanted to give you a clear picture of each
P.s. I’m sorry for the delayed post. I know I said this would be up yesterday, but I had an unforeseen family matter come up that slightly took my attention away. Thank you for understanding. I love you all.