Continued analysis of Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers as part of the DIY MFA Writer Igniter Reading Challenge. For more details click here.
The beginning of the end starts with the second pivot point, which according to Gabriela Pereira can also be called the dark night of the soul. This sounds a little dramatic but actually works perfectly with Liane Moriarty’s NINE PERFECT STRANGERS. In this novel, the second pivot point happens in the middle of the night when all the retreat attendees are locked in the yoga & meditation cave thinking that the building is burning down around them. Sounds like a ‘dark night of the soul’ if ever there was one. At this point, Frances has an epiphany and remembers a phrase repeated by their crazy retreat director: “nothing lasts forever” This is when she realizes that, as a group, they had given up on trying the locked door. They assumed it was still locked because no one had figured out the key code, but in fact, it was no longer locked and they were no longer trapped.
The climax of the novel is the scene just before this when the nine wellness retreat attendees are huddled in the yoga & meditation cave thinking that Tranquillum House was burning around them. They are all wondering if they will make it out alive.
After Frances realizes the door is unlocked and all they needed to do to get out was try the door again, the group escapes together cautiously. They are still concerned that the director might have another looney trick awaiting.
In the end, Frances realizes she is a changed person, as do the rest of the wellness retreat attendees. She doesn’t fall back into her old habits (like immediately succumbing to romance with the ex-pro Aussie rules footballer), but makes small changes that she realized actually were for the better.
At the surface level, I would say this is a “happy ending.” However, I might argue that it is also a “Change of Heart” ending. Just before the mid-point (and before everyone realizes the director is, indeed, crazy), the director asks Frances, “Do you want to be a different person when you leave here?” To which Frances responds, “I guess I do.” As a reader, it was never really clear if Frances had a firm goal at this retreat. But in the end, she finds that she is better with some of the suggested (dietary & exercise) changes.
The other nine (no longer) strangers, also end up in a happier space. In part, this is because some people got what they wanted and others had a change of heart regarding what they wanted.