Thought Box

As Well As Can Be

As Well As Can Be

by Deepa Gahlot February 21 2019, 4:32 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 35 secs

 The wellness industry is growing rapidly all over the world - new fad diets, beauty treatments and exercise regimes keep popping up at regular intervals.

Bestselling author Liane Moriarty, whose book Little Big Lies was turned into an award-winning series, has come out with her new novel, Nine Perfect Strangers that satirises this get-healthy-quick trend.

Set in a pricey boutique wellness resort in Australia, called Tranquillum House, the book takes a look at the dodgy business that promises to transform lives in ten days. It is a given that the people who sign up for these health resorts have some problem in their lives and want instant solutions. The domineering woman, Masha Dmitrichenko, who runs the resort with an iron hand, seems to know which strings to pull to make her clients feel better - physically and emotionally. Assisting her in running the resort are the impressionable former paramedic Yao, and the shrewd Delilah, who knows more than she is willing to let on.

There are nine clients at the swanky spa that promises a life-altering experience with a mix of yoga, massage, diet control, fasting, digital detox and “noble silence.” The only thing they have in common is that they can afford the high fee at the luxury resort, located in a beautiful heritage mansion in a remote area.

Liane Moriarty, author, Nine Perfect Strangers

Romance author Frances Welty in her fifties, has just been scammed by a man she befriended on the net, the sales of her books are plummeting, her last manuscript has been rejected by her publisher and she has developed a back problem. Fond of wine, chocolates and the good life, Frances is a bit taken aback by the strict discipline at the resort and indignant when the food and drink she has smuggled in is confiscated, but she is willing to be open-minded about the experience. When her life is at rock-bottom, she has nothing much to lose.

She is the one fully-developed character in the book, though the others are interesting too - the truculent, overweight sports management consultant, a young couple that won a fortune in a lottery and find their marriage unraveling, a shattered divorcee and mother of four, a couple with their teenage daughter coping with the suicide of their son, and a gay resort junkie.

With some difficulty, they manage the routine of getting up at the crack of dawn for meditation and exercise, they put up with the fasting and frugal healthy diet, but when things start going wrong, their individual strengths and weaknesses are revealed. The prologue has Masha going down with a heart attack, and the book then returns to her past, her radical metamorphosis, her ideas and dubious methods much later in the story; in spite of all she does wrong, she is quite a remarkable woman. And Nine Perfect Strangers is an entertaining read.  One can almost imagine a series with Nicole Kidman playing the ageless Masha.

Nine Perfect Strangers

By Liane Moriarty

Publisher: Flatiron

Pages: 457

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