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An Unhealthy Spa

January 11, 2019 GMT

Nine Perfect Strangers by Laine Moriarty

Best-selling author Liane Moriarty starts off with an intriguing premise: nine strangers sign up for a 10-day spa retreat in the remote Australian outback. Each comes with “personal baggage” as well as expectations for the makeover. The reader is introduced to each of them, and they are far from “perfect.”

Tranquillum House is run by a dominatrix-type woman (Masha) who has re-invented herself after emigrating from Russia. By sheer force of her personality, she manipulates the strangers into exercises and dietary extremes they wouldn’t have considered before coming to the spa.

After their initial resistance, the strangers begin to buy into the exercises, meditation, smoothies, and yoga, and they are starting to be pleased with the changes in their bodies.

Then, weirdness sets in. The charismatic Masha locks them into the cellar of the mansion house, and begins challenging them to more and more extreme behavior. Each of the strangers reacts differently, and it’s only when they begin to work as a team that they are able to overcome the challenges Masha has set for them.


The best way to read this book seems to be to find the humor in the strange twists and turns Moriarty brings to the plot. Don’t try to think too hard about the unlikelihood of most of the happenings, just go with the flow. It will most likely be a movie in another year.

Kerry Pettis is a retired elementary school teacher and children’s librarian who has lived in Broomfield since 1975. Reading is her favorite occupation.