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Nine perfect strangers
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  New York Times Review

IF YOU DON'T immediately recognize Liane Moriarty's name, you may remember her novel-turned-HBO-series "Big Little Lies," about the intersecting lives of three women whose children attend the same kindergarten. Juggling that many main characters is the literary equivalent of spinning plates, and Moriarty succeeded in keeping them all airborne. If three characters were good in "Big Little Lies," nine are even better in "Nine Perfect Strangers," about a group of Australians who converge on a "boutique health and wellness resort" called Tranquillum House, all looking to change their lives in some way. The director of Tranquillum House is the domineering and coolly charismatic Masha Dmitrichenko, a 6-foot-tall cross between a guru and a general. Masha promises her guests that their lives will change in 10 days if they follow her program for their "wellness journey," which includes yoga, meditation, diet, a "screenfree environment" and "noble silence." The spa-goers, who obey Masha grudgingly in the beginning, soon start feeling happier and healthier. The perfect foil for the formidable Masha, and the standout spa-goer, is Frances Welty. Frances is a middle-aged romance novelist who's feeling terrible about herself after her publisher rejected her new manuscript, a reviewer hated her latest book and an online con man broke her heart in a catfishing scam. Frances may be down on her luck, and herself, but her warm sense of humor makes her completely relatable. At the pool, trying to impress another spa-goer, "she wanted to convey strength in all her future interactions with this man, and her soft white body ... didn't convey much except 52 years of good living and a weakness for chocolate Lindt balls." Frances describes the mandatory smoothies as "green sludge" and even tries to smuggle chocolate into Tranquillum House, acknowledging: "This was rock-bottom. She'd just licked a Kit Kat wrapper." The other characters are also fully realized, with compelling lives, relationships and motivations. They include a sports marketing consultant, a husband and wife who won the lottery and are trying to salvage their marriage, a health-spa junkie ("I indulge and atone, indulge and atone"), a once-famous athlete and a recently divorced mother of four. An espedally poignant story line follows another married couple, Heather and Napoleon, and their 20-year-old daughter, Zoe, who are all grieving the suicide of Zoe's twin brother, Zach. A subplot like that can veer into melodrama, but Moriarty handles it deftly. For example, when Zoe is asked about her upcoming birthday, she answers simply: "I don't celebrate on that day anymore. I kind of changed my birthday." To divulge what happens next would spoil a major plot twist, though readers are given a tiny hint early on when Masha asks Frances how she likes the book she is reading. "Frances thought about this. The book was meant to be another murder mystery, but the author had introduced far too many characters too early, and so far everyone was still alive and kicking. The pace had slowed. Come on now. Hurry up and kill someone." One of the most satisfying aspects of "Nine Perfect Strangers" is that it is thought-provoking but never pedantic. The novel raises fascinating questions about our relentless quest for self-improvement, why we seek out others to transform us and whether external change causes internal change, or vice versa. Does social media make followers of us all? When does a group become a cult, and why? Moriarty doesn't supply the answers, but trusts her readers to come up with their own, which is just as it should be. Ñamaste. LISA SCOTTOLINE'S new novel, "Someone Knows," will be published in April. One character smuggles chocolate into the spa. 'This was rock bottom. She'd just licked a Kit Kat wrapper.'

  Publishers Weekly 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.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
<p> NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER </p> <p> "If three characters were good in Big Little Lies , nine are even better in Nine Perfect Strangers ." --Lisa Scottoline, The New York Times Book Review </p> <p> From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Little Lies </p> <p> Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? In Liane Moriarty's latest page-turner, nine perfect strangers are about to find out... </p> <p>Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can't even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.</p> <p>Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She's immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don't look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn't even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer - or should she run while she still can?</p> <p>It's not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.</p> <p>Combining all of the hallmarks that have made her writing a go-to for anyone looking for wickedly smart, page-turning fiction that will make you laugh and gasp, Liane Moriarty's Nine Perfect Strangers once again shows why she is a master of her craft.</p>
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