En­gag­ing novel to be­come film star­ring Ni­cole Kid­man

Times Colonist - - Islander / Books - ERICA PEAR­SON

Big Lit­tle Lies au­thor Liane Mo­ri­arty is back, with a page­turner that’s al­ready set to be­come an­other star ve­hi­cle for Ni­cole Kid­man (whose per­for­mance helped make HBO’s minis­eries even bet­ter than the 2014 best­seller).

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-best­selling 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 re­veal well. The way her char­ac­ters’ back sto­ries reel in the reader made me think of binge-watch­ing ABC’s Lost.

The end­ing of Nine Per­fect Strangers, how­ever, is much more sat­is­fy­ing.

Liane Mo­ri­arty is back with an­other page turner.

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