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Many of you will know that I am a huge fan of both Liane Moriarty and Nicole Kidman. So it will come as no surprise that I wanted to review ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’, which is now a limited TV series. Ever since I read the novel a while back, I have been looking forward to seeing this narrative told on screen.
After reading the brilliant ‘Big Little Lies’ it didn’t take long for me to become hooked on Liane Moriarty’s writing. This was the second book of hers that I read and it was fresh, relatable and mind-blowing. Having been to a health spa plenty of times myself, I was instantly intrigued by the setting. Soon I realised that her idea of a spa was far different to mine. The cleverly written plot is original, thought-provoking and absolutely absorbing.
Nine strangers all arrived at a health retreat in Australia where they had paid high fees to enjoy a revitalising, well-recommended break. They expected a healing experience based around good food, long massages and plenty of fresh air. What they got was a roller-coaster ride of an experience, led by a Russian lady who seems almost ethereal.
I won’t go into too much detail but suffice to say, the first three episodes have done brilliantly by representing all of the characters incredibly well. Each person has an interesting, and sometimes harrowing back story, and these characters are deemed a perfect set of strangers because their issues are meant to balance each other out.
Nicole Kidman plays Masha, the powerful and mysterious owner of Tranquillum House, who has taken to experimenting with her clients, finding innovative ways to deal with their anxieties. She is joined by Melissa McCarthy (who also executive produces with Nicole) as Frances, a once best-selling author who is a little down on her luck.
Liane Moriarty always says that she feels she can identify most strongly with Frances. I guess because she is also an author of a similar background. Anyway, there are plenty of other interesting people in this. In fact it is full of stars. With Samara Weaving (The Babysitter) as a young Instagram lover, married to a fast car obsessed husband, the cast also includes Luke Evans (Beauty and the Beast), Regina Hall (Scary Movie) and Asher Keddie (Stateless).
Just like with ‘Big Little Lies’, David E Kelley wrote the script for this series and his use of diversion, pace and heartfelt drama makes this show so unmissable. Obviously they did the Hollywood thing of relocating Tranquillum House in California instead of Australia, but I have let them off for this transgression.
I can happily state that so far he has kept very true to Liane’s book, probably helped by the fact that she too is an executive producer. I could almost hear her describing the characters in my head as I watched them introduce themselves. The casting of Napoleon, a high school teacher struggling to keep his traumatised family in one piece, is particularly excellent. Similarly the two health spa workers, Delilah and Yao are exactly as I imagined them.
Final Thoughts – Having watched it all.
After watching the last episode there is no doubt this is a thought-provoking series with some great acting. Although some of the storyline is different from Liane’s book, most of the key elements exist and are well represented. Melissa McCarthy impressed me with her portrayal of a character experiencing social anxiety and Regina King was skilful in how she dissected her manic part.
Just in case you wanted to read the book before you watch the series I have included a link here:
If you are in the UK, you might want to consider subscribing to Amazon Prime Video to check out the first three episodes. The others will follow each week until all eight are online.
We are only three episodes in and it is already clear from what I have read online that this series is a hit. I totally recommend both the book and the series. If you like this kind of blog post perhaps consider following my blog and making my day.