Nine Perfect Strangers - Liane Moriarty, 2018


Nine Perfect Strangers is another delicious book by Liane Moriarty that made me laugh out loud and made me cry and that I could hardly put down late at night. Unfortunately this is the ninth book I've read by Liane Moriarty, and she hasn't yet released any more books...

I loved the characters and their development and how they were increasingly able to put their problems into perspective and connect with each other. For example Carmel: her husband has left her because he no longer finds her attractive and almost immediately started a relationship with a much younger woman. At the beginning of the story, Carmel is still devastated. When the three of them later discuss the children and the girlfriend takes the initiative to arrange everything conveniently, Carmel experiences

another burst of euphoria. She might have lost a husband, but she'd got herself a wife. An efficient, energetic young wife. What a bargain. What an upgrade.

It was a good decision to choose a writer as one of the characters in the book, Frances, who writes romance novels. This gives Moriarty a chance to discuss thoughts, experiences and conversations of a writer in this book. I like the way Frances discusses and Moriarty uses the famous line "Reader, I married him" from Charlotte Brontë's first-person novel ''Jane Eyre''.

Kirkus Reviews wrote about Moriarty's 2011 novel [book: The Hypnotist's Love Story]:

Amazingly, the effervescent comedy and troubling melodrama combine to create a satisfying beach read, escapist but not unintelligent.

This characterization of one of her previous books as a 'beach read' was reflected in this book: Frances reads a terrible review of her books. Her literary agent (accidentally) tells her about the review; normally she never reads reviews. He says

Some bitch picked up a copy of 'What the Heart Wants' at the airport and did an opinion piece about, ah, your books in general, a mad diatribe. She kind of linked it to the Me Too movement, which gave it some clickbait traction. It was just ridiculous - as if romance books are to blame for sexual predators!
The review contains words such as 'formulaic, trash, drivel, trite, a blight on feminism, mysogynistic airport trash that leaves a bad taste in your mouth'. In a dream, Frances
dared to look up and the stars were a million darting eyes on the lookout for rule-breaking in her story: sexism, ageism, racism, tokenism, ableism, plagiarism, cultural appropriation, fat-shaming, body-shaming, slut-shaming, vegetarian-shaming, real-estate-agent-shaming.(...) An endless gossamer-like sentence embroidered with jewel-like metaphors, far too many clauses, and a meaning so obscure it had to be profound wrapped itself around Frances's neck, but it really didn't suit her, so she wrenched it off and flung it into space, where it floated free until at last a shy author on his way to a festival to accept a prize grabbed it from the sky and used it to gag one of his beautiful corpses. It looked lovely on her. Gray-bearded critics applauded with relief, grateful it hadn't ended up in a beach read.

I think Moriarty really enjoyed writing that long sentence with way too many clauses and metaphors, poking fun at reviewers who dislike long sentences with way too many clauses and metaphors. In the sentences after that one she tells reviewers that she doesn't care that her books are seen as beach reads or holiday books.

That's how I see her books, by the way. They're about very real human experiences and feelings, so I don't think of them as superficial, but they're not 'literary' in the sense of 'a meaning so obscure it had to be profound'; she doesn't do that, writing 'literature' just for the sake of being 'literature'. Funnily enough, towards the end of the book there is an aside that tells us things didn't go well for the reviewer.


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