This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that if you buy something, I might earn a small commission from that sale at no cost to you. As always, my links support indie bookstores. Read my full disclosure here. Thank you for your support.
Content warnings for Nine Perfect Strangers provided at the bottom of this post, for those who would find them useful. You can find further details on content warnings here.
I’ve also reviewed Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty. You can find that review here.
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.
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?
It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.
I read Apples Never Fall before Nine Perfect Strangers — I know, I know, the wrong order when considering the popularity of Liane Moriarty titles. Nine Perfect Strangers was only vaguely on my list of books to read (a kind of I’ll-get-around-to-it title), but was bumped up to the front when the Hulu adaptation popped up on my screen, begging to be clicked.
But, being the master of self-restraint that I am, I forced myself to read the book first. It only took a day.
I really enjoyed Apples Never Fall, but Nine Perfect Strangers blew it out of the water. I hate to say that, because it always bums me out when an author’s subsequent works aren’t as good, but I can’t lie.
Moriarty is a master of the ensemble cast. I knew this from the first read, but the characters in Nine Perfect Strangers were so vivid. There were a couple that felt a little less fleshed-out than others, but all were intriguing nonetheless. There was no character that made me groan when switching to their POV, which is quite a feat.
Recently we’ve had a lot of books that seem to get a little autobiographical in that they have a main character involved in the publishing industry or living the life of an author that isn’t all that dissimilar to the actual writer. (*Ahem* Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You.) Fortunately, this wasn’t unbearable. Frances, the romance writer taking on the “main” character role, has hit a rough patch in her career. It felt like a much more honest picture of the author life, not some glamorous fairytale that, in reality, exists for few in the profession. She was also funny and relatable in a way that doesn’t come off as overdone.
It’s a good read, and I’m eager to update this post with my thoughts on the Hulu series, as well.
CW: Mental illness, suicide, abuse (physical, mental, emotional, verbal, sexual), death or dying, kidnapping and other events that might be consider traumatic, pregnancy, self-harm and eating disorders