Book Review – Nine Perfect Strangers

“Nine Perfect Strangers” by Liane Moriarty – 8

I have watched the first season of “Big Little Lies” and found it absorbing. I think Liane Moriarty handles characters and character relationships very well and this book backs that up. It didn’t take me long to realise she is quite a wordsmith, but I did think the book was going to be a whole lot of navel gazing and characters bouncing off each other, albeit well written. But I was wrong; story took some surprising turns and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey.

Liane is one of those rare writers who have an appreciation of the fact that, while she knows her characters intimately, knows who each one is and their names, the reader struggles in the early part of the story to put a face to all the names being thrown at them and so she deftly and unobtrusively lets us know who is who until we get to know them.  

I was impressed with the way Liane progressed the self-blame for Zach’s suicide from one character to two characters and then to three characters. She also skilfully introduced humour into character’s actions and thoughts. And she hit on some great insights into the way we think about ourselves and others – page 202 for instance. I was impressed with her ability to use analogies to efficiently give the reader a vision of what something or someone or a group looked like in the scene – page 399 for instance.  

After what could have been the denouement in many works – the cop turning up and Masha being hauled away – there was still quite a few pages to go and I thought: Oh, oh, danger – this could be a ‘and they all lived happily ever after ending’ and could become very cheesy. But I think Liane handled it very well with credible realism.

I will be seeking out more of her work.

Steve Reilly