Reading Challenge 2023: Nine Perfect Strangers – Liane Moriarty

Hello Lovelies!

It’s half term! Hurrah! I am so glad to see this Friday for sure. I am utterly exhausted and I’ve got myself into a pickle. I explained a bit in my previous post but it appears that I am still not able to do much reading which is a real shame. My head is still too much of a fog for me to see through it. However, whether I just write a sentence a day, I wanted to share with you my book choice and topic for my reading challenge of 2023! I know I launched this with you all around New Year. Doesn’t that seem like ages ago? Anyway, I wanted to get stuck in with this for sure so I decided to pick: Read a book with a number in the title. In the run up to Christmas I’d been watching Nine Perfect Strangers so I thought that would be a brilliant book to read. Thankfully, the series and the book were a little different so it made for a really exciting reading experience really. I hope you like my review!

What’s it all about?

Well, there will be gaps in this review because I don’t want to spoil anything. The premise is quite simple: a wellness resort and nine perfect strangers coming together for enlightenment and relaxation for ten days. Sounds perfect, right? However idilic the grounds of Tranquillium House are, it doesn’t make up for the fact that things do seem a little strange there. These nine people are: Frances, a semi famous romance novelist, Lars, a health retreat enthusiast, married couple Ben and Jessica, Carmel, a divorced single mother, Tony, an ex famous sportsman and the Marconi family which consists of Napoleon, Heather and daughter Zoe. Once they are all finally in the grounds, they embark on a period of silence. They also participate in activities like hiking, yoga and therapy. Whilst experiencing these delights, we learn more about each character and what had let them to this point. Tragically, the Marconi’s lost a son to suicide, Ben and Jessica won the lottery and thereby their whole relationship changed. Sucker for love Frances got scammed by a man pretending to love her. Carmel’s ex husband and daughter had gone off travelling with his new younger fiancée and she is obsessed with losing weight.

“Women and their bodies! The most abusive and toxic of relationships. Masha had seen women pinch at the flesh of their stomachs with such brutal self-loathing they left bruises. Meanwhile their husbands fondly patted their own much larger stomachs with rueful pride.” 

As fascinating as Traquillium House is, the resort director is even more intriguing. Masha along with her wellness consultants, Yeo and Delilah watch the guests closely and monitor how they act, behave and what they do. Half way through the ten day trip, Heather realises that something isn’t quite right. During their breakfast smoothies, Helen realises that they’ve all been drugged. Naturally, they’re all furious. However, Masha eventually reveals that they have been micro-dosing them with LSD. Heather only spotted it that day because the dose was higher. Masha stands by this decision because she believes that it would help them all with opening up and progressing along their spiritual wellness journey. Regardless, the guests are furious. But they’re much too high to be able to do anything about it. They’re all busy on the waves of the high. Lars sees how his parent’s unhappy marriage has made him afraid of marrying his partner, Ray. Heather feels guilty about the death of their son Zach because she gave him medication that had potential side effects of depression. On the flip side, Carmel decides that her body is perfect and she loves it.

“The risks were calculated. The risks were justified. No one ever ascended a mountain without risk.” 

Post high, the group all learn that they are locked in the confines of a room together. Masha had high expectations of the group working together to secure their release but she decides to try something new with them. Deliah takes off, stealing Ben and Jessica’s Lamborghini as she believes that Masha has crossed a line. Yeo also tries to protest but Masha drugs him too. Left to her own devices she has nothing to do but try this new idea out. Yet, there is a problem. She cannot stop thinking about her own loss; the loss of her baby boy who strangled himself with a curtain cord accidentally. It took one slip of attention for that to happen and as a result, she’s never really forgiven herself. She too then takes LSD and is clearly out of her mind. The strangers humour her but they are distracted when they can hear and smell fire. Tony mentally goes back to his pre-injury athleticism and tries to jump, causing some pain. Panic ensues but after a while, they realise the door is open. Upon leaving the room, they see that it’s just a recording of a fire with a small wastebasket with burnt items in.

“Only those who have feared they will lose everything feel true gratitude for their lucky lives.” 

As soon as Masha learns that they’ve all got themselves out, she is delighted albeit still high. She asks them if they’re pleased with their results but Heather is less than kind. She is filled with grief and rage and attacks Masha. Masha fights back and Frances steps in and knocks Masha out, protecting Heather. Finally, Deliah returns, Ben is relieved to see his car again and Masha and Yeo are arrested. The story doesn’t quite end here though. Afterwards, the guests do end up resolving the various root issues of their problems – the ultimate reason why they all went to the resort anyway. Many years later, Masha is out of prison and is publicising a book she as written. She still has an exclusive secretive LSD based therapy programme going on too. Arguably most surprisingly, Tony and Frances marry.

“It’s called guided psychedelic therapy,” said Masha. “As your ego dissolves you will access a higher level of consciousness. A curtain will be drawn back and you will see the world in a way you’ve never seen it before.” 

Final Thoughts

I really did like this book and found myself compelled to get to the end. I also liked loved each character, their flaws and their development. Each were explored brilliantly and had their own edges to them. It felt like different characteristics really were explored well. I also really appreciated that I had no idea which way the narrative was going to go – I liked that I was kept hanging really. Overall, I’d definitely read something by Liane Moriarty again. She’s got a really good style and way of making the plot evolve.

I really hope half term gives me the opportunity to reset and feel better soon. I hope I can pick up my books and do some reading too. Fingers crossed.

Stay safe and well all.

Big love xxxx


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