Nine Perfect Strangers

By Liane Moriarty

Flatiron Books. 453 pp. $28.99.

Reviewed by Erica Pearson

(Minneapolis) Star Tribune

Big Little Lies author Liane Moriarty is back, with a page-turner that’s already set to become another star vehicle for Nicole Kidman (whose performance helped make HBO’s mini-series even better than the 2014 best seller).

Kidman, whom Moriarty thanks in her acknowledgments, snapped up the rights to Nine Perfect Strangers even before reading it. Lucky for her, it’s a winner, even if it doesn’t cut to the bone quite like Big Little Lies.

We meet Moriarty’s titular strangers as they arrive at a remote Aussie wellness resort called Tranquillum House, all seeking healing of some kind. The book hops from one perspective to the next: the once-best-selling romance novelist with a broken heart, the married couple whose life was ruined by a lottery win, the family of three that used to be four and is about to go through another painful anniversary.

All the while, it becomes increasingly clear that something isn’t quite right at Tranquillum House or with its mysterious owner, Masha, even though the smoothies taste delightful.

Moriarty manages to poke clever fun without being mean, and she times each revelation well. The way her characters’ backstories reel in the reader made me think of binge-watching ABC’s Lost. The ending of Nine Perfect Strangers, however, is much more satisfying.

This review first appeared in the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune.