Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Frances was sick and tired…  not just sick with the cold that had lingered for the past many weeks, but really feeling as if life had caught up with her.  With her career suddenly seeming to be turning south and her love life at a mortifying halt, a 10-day “cleanse” at the Tranquillum House seems to be just what she needs to repair.  When she meets Masha, the stunning and passionate guru whose mission is to guide each of the nine newcomers to Tranquillum House through their individual transformations, Frances is a bit wary – but she’s trying her best to be open-minded.  Little does she – or any of them – know how they will, in spite of themselves, be completely transformed ultimately, but not at all in the way that they think.

Some books are plot-driven and some are character-driven.  This book is both.  There are endearing and tragic characters whose layers are gradually peeled off one by one as the story is told via rotating narrative perspectives.  Each has their vulnerability that is seen as something that might be remedied by a diet change, or with some counseling or some meditation. (Who can’t relate to that?)   But there is also a wild plot that is imaginative and suspenseful and runs beyond where at least I expected it to go.  And by the time it is completed, you feel that the nine are no longer strangers, but rather your dear friends.

Better read it before the movie comes out – it’s bound to be a movie!

The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty


I love Liane Moriarty’s books – they’re fun, smart, and usually tackle topics of some substance.  This book, unfortunately, is an exception…

Ellen is a hypnotherapist who prides herself in her work with people – she’s had many successful treatments, helping people in their relationships.  Unfortunately, she has not had many successful relationships of her own; that is, until she meets Patrick.  Patrick is handsome, kind, and fun – but complicated.  He is a widower with a young son, which would be fine, if it weren’t for his stalker…

I think if the characters here were just a little more likable, or the story were a little more believable, or the substance of the book was a little more solid, it would have come together and been ok.  But the characters were flat and strange, the story a bit outlandish, and the substance just too airy for my liking.

It wasn’t a book I gave up on, but it did feel just too long and I was glad to reach the end.  Not a rave review, this time.  Sorry!

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty


In this slightly outlandish story, Sophie finds herself sucked into the circumstances of her ex-boyfriend’s family, when his Aunt Connie has died and left her house on an island to Sophie.  This is no ordinary island, however.  It is on this island, where many years prior, Connie and her sister, Rose, walked into their neighbors’ house, expecting to have tea with their neighbors, Jack and Alice Munro, when they discovered their baby girl left unattended, with Jack and Alice having mysteriously vanished.  Sophie herself remembers visiting the island, now a shrine of sorts (and the source of a healthy income for the sisters), where the rooms were left untouched, still with bloodstains and an unfinished crossword puzzle, just as if they’d just deserted the room that morning.  As the events unfold, the family and their individual struggles and conflicts come to light and Sophie finds peace with her own life as she helps them with theirs.

As usual, Moriarty tells a tale that is alternatively amusing and tragic.  While the premise is a little far-fetched, the struggles that these quirky characters are coping with – relationship issues, depression, child neglect and worse – are quite realistic.  And Moriarty’s signature humor and warmth follow each character through to the end.

If you’re looking for a fun read with some substance, this is your book!

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty


For each of the 3 families attending the BBQ hosted by Tiffany and Vin, life was permanently altered.  Clementine and Sam were unsure if their marriage would survive, Tiffany and Vin were not sure what was going on with their daughter, Dakota, and Erika could not remember a slice of time during the BBQ and was obsessively trying to recover that memory.  Life seemed so simple before the BBQ.  Things were taken for granted…

The beauty of this book is in the skillful crafting of the narrative, which circles around the BBQ and only very gradually divulges exactly what happened and how.  By rotating around the characters’ perspectives and by weaving in and out of time frames, Moriarty builds up the suspense and enriches the impact of the crescendo of the story.  And on the way down, she continues to add smaller punches which ultimately tie in each of the pieces of the puzzle.

I also love the message in this book, which is, essentially, that issues that are difficult or painful should be talked through.  Keeping secrets and holding things inside only lead to repression and misperceptions, usually resulting in unfounded guilt or other sources of misery.  Especially with children.

I am a big fan of Liane Moriarty – and this is yet another engaging, well-spun tale by her!

Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty (migrated from bookblogger)

It was supposed to be a lovely celebration of the triplets’ birthday and it began as such, but a sudden explosion of temper erupted and all hell broke loose.  This is how this story starts and the rest of the book discloses how these 3 tall, very attractive triplets came to arrive at this tumultuous point in their lives.

As usual, Liane Moriarty crafts a fun read – with a combination of both heavier and lighter issues that each of the sisters is coping with.  She is able to weave an emotionally abusive relationship, blended families, infertility and infidelity among the sisters’ lives, without making this a totally depressing story.  Quite an accomplishment, I think!  I think she is able to do this by intertwining the serious with lighter, funnier moments, with sarcasm and with beautiful moments as well.  Sort of like how life is, I believe — ie. the good with the bad.

While this was not my favorite book of hers, I did enjoy it very much and do recommend it.  This would be a good summer read!  (Just wish it felt anywhere close to summer right now — I’d even take spring!)

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty (migrated from bookblogger)

Tess has just been told that her husband is in love with her cousin…  Cecilia has just learned that there is a letter from her husband that she is instructed to open only upon his death…  Rachel has just learned that her son is going to be moving to the other side of the world, taking away her grandson and the only reason for living since her daughter has been murdered all those years ago.   These characters are gradually woven together into a story that is both gripping and heartbreaking.

The writing here is simple, a little repetitive, but the story is worth it.  There is a calculated twist to the action in the story that is a little far-fetched, but that is what fiction is about, no?

I think the Epilogue is actually my favorite part of the book, though, and I won’t give any of that away.  Suffice it to say, it is a great commentary on the randomness of life and how a small or not-so-small action can impact the trajectory of a life and/or lives.  This I believe to be true.

Not exactly high literature here, but a good read nonetheless.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (migrated from bookblogger)

This was one of those jewels that has you laughing even as you’re reading about a subject that is profoundly serious.  On the surface, the story reads almost like a comical documentary, with the narrative intermixed with comments given by each of the characters who were peripherally involved in the death of a character (this is not a spoiler — this comes out in the beginning, but through the whole story it is unclear who is killed by whom).  On a deeper level, though, the story deals extremely sensitively and honestly with the frightening issue of relationship violence.

Jane is about to move to a new area in Australia near the ocean with her son, Ziggy.  During the kindergarten orientation, an incident occurs with sweet, little Ziggy that initiates a huge divide among the mothers of the class.  As alliances form, each of the characters shows her true colors and the friendships begin.  Jane is initially secretive about her own past, but as she warms to her new friends, she sees that revealing her own story can actually free her of the burden of  it.  She also learns that she is not the only one with secrets.

The characters in this story are remarkably real and 3-dimentional.  The story also has a number of different corollaries, which keeps it moving both sideways and forward and also works to add to the suspense of who is killed and by whom.  And while the underlying message is clear and strong, there is  a warm humor threaded through which kept me loving this book.

Can’t wait to read more by this author!