Nine Perfect Strangers is the latest novel from Liane Moriarty, author of Big Little Lies. Set in Australia, the story follows nine people as they travel to a health resort called Tranquillum House and the events that unfold there.
The purpose of our Book Club Guides is to recommend books for your book club and provide guidance for discussion. This book guide focuses on Moriarty’s 2018 novel Nine Perfect Strangers.
Book Review: Plot, Pros and Cons
Apparently, some big Moriarty fans aren’t in love with this book. People really seem to love it or hate it. That, however, can be an indication of a great book club book. There’s plenty to talk about when it comes to this novel.
The primary strength of this book is in its characters. Nine Perfect Strangers switches between the perspectives of the nine clients of the resort and some members of its staff. While there are plenty of people to keep track of, they’re all unique and well-developed, never leaving you confused about who’s who.
Given that all the characters have been drawn to this wellness resort for a 10-day cleanse, everyone in the novel is going through something. From an author healing a broken heart to a mom of four looking for a new start and a former athlete trying to get in shape to a family grieving a tragedy, there are all kinds of stories to unravel. No matter how you feel about each one, there’s plenty to discuss about the different characters and their developments throughout the book.
Another aspect of this book that’s ripe for discussion is its treatment of the wellness trend. With the range of characters also comes a variety of perspectives on clean eating, yoga, meditation, and everything else one might find at such a resort. The retreat begins with a strict meal plan, complete with veggie-packed smoothies, and several days of required silence. The resort also forbids alcohol, sweets, and technology, instead opting for meditation, exercise, and spa treatments.
Eventually, when more experimental treatments come to light, the novel ultimately poses the question: how far is too far? Whether you cultivate your own daily yoga practice or think the whole thing is a bit wacky, there’s something to chat about here.
Here we have some discussion topics for your book club. They’re not too specific, so as not to spoil any of the plot for those who may not have read yet.
- Which one of the retreat attendees do you most identify with — Frances, Lars, Ben, Jessica, Heather, Napoleon, Zoe, Carmel, or Tony? Which character is your favorite? Why?
- Masha goes to great lengths to do what she thinks is best. Do you agree with any of her methods? Once you learned more of her personal story, did you sympathize with her?
- The nine attendees all come to the resort on a quest for change. They endure quite a traumatic experience due to Masha’s extreme methods — but did it have any positive effects?
- Did the story progress they way you thought it would? Which parts surprised you?
- What do you make of the end of the book? Are the “nine perfect strangers” better off in the end?
- What commentary is this book making about the “wellness trend?”
- Have you ever been to a wellness resort? If not, would you like to go to one? Why or why not?
Overall, Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers is a page-turning novel that’s part character study and part societal commentary, making it a great choice for book clubs. When it comes to choosing a book club book, discussion material is of utmost importance, and this book definitely provides that.
Have you read Nine Perfect Strangers? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!
Happy reading! Cheers!
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