If you loved Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarity then you’ll want to run out to buy her new book, Nine Perfect Strangers (Flatiron Books).  A mix of nine people sign up (and plunked down a sizable fee) for a week of personal transformation at a place called Tranquility House with a singular expectation—to obliterate what had become debilitating stress.  Their days are filled with calming yoga classes, they give up alcohol and chocolate (grudgingly), sip on freshly made smoothies, go on serene nature walks ultimately to emerge as healthier, leaner, more enlightened people.  Consciousness raising anyone?

What they don’t see coming is a series of abrupt changes in the program, which go from bad to worse to the point of near mutiny.  Are they in impending danger? Was the stalwart director of the resort completely out of her mind? Was she hallucinating? Or were her methods of reform merely unprecedented and absolutely necessary in order for her guests to have a life-changing “breakthrough”?

By way of alternating perspectives, Moriarty slowly unveils each character’s past triumphs, personal gains, and devastating, gut-wrenching losses.  The characters are for the most part likable. They each have their own individual charms, wit and idiosyncrasies. Nine Perfect Strangers is brimming with highs and lows, anger and frustration, and in true Moriarty fashion, before the last of your tears run dry (and there will be many), a few hearty belly laughs. Snark and hilarity abound.

In the last quarter of the book the pace accelerates and the anxiousness and determination for the nine individuals to complete their journey reaches a fever pitch.

After days of fasting, “noble silence” and other assorted deprivations, I empathized and couldn’t wait for the outcome of this arduous quest to change their lives.

It’s fair to say, I think, that we’ve all contemplated similar intentions at some point and in some way in our own lives. One glaring difference would be that here in the U.S. we don’t have kookaburras outside our window singing their songs of encouragement. But most of us understand what it means to go into a situation with mild expectations and come out on the other side with something else, something more profound, maybe even long lasting. There’s a lesson to be learned here and I get it – but can the same be said for the Nine Perfect Strangers at Tranquility House?

Nine Perfect Strangers is now available to purchase.

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Image courtesy of lianemoriarty.com

Liane Moriarty is the Australian author of seven internationally bestselling novels: Three Wishes, The Last Anniversary, What Alice Forgot, The Hypnotist’s Love Story and the number 1 New York Times bestsellers: The Husband’s Secret, Big Little Lies and Truly Madly Guilty. Her books have been translated into over 40 languages and read by more than 14 million people worldwide.