Frances Welty, a romance author, arrives at Tranquillum House against her better judgement for a ten-day retreat. She is nursing a bruised ego following a relationship break-up of sorts and a bad back which is possibly psychosomatic in nature. A ten-day health retreat sounds perfect. She encounters eight other guests at Tranquillum House, each with their own reasons for wanting to be there. There’s the young couple Jessica and Ben Chandler who want to save their marriage. The Marconi family – Heather, Napoleon and their twenty-year-old daughter, Zoe – don’t look like they need to be at a health retreat. The handsome and charismatic Lars Lee enjoys going to retreats every now and then. Carmel Schneider is hoping to lose weight and engage in self-care while her children travel overseas with her ex-husband and his new wife. Tony Hogburn is an ex-AFL player, sceptical about the retreat but still hoping to lose some excess weight.
But more intriguing than the guests for Frances is the founder of Tranquillum House – Masha Dmitrichenko. With the help of Yao, a paramedic in a previous life, she is focussed on helping the guests achieve their respective goals through mindfulness, yoga, meditation, massages and counselling. While some of it is luxurious, there is also work involved for the participants. But none of them is aware of just how much work they will need to do and how unorthodox some of Masha’s methods might be.
Liane Moriarty remains one of my favourite authors and once again, with this book, she proves why. She is insightful when it comes to characters and each voice is strong and unique in its own way. While I didn’t love any of the characters, I did quite like Zoe and Frances, flawed as they were. I appreciated the nuances, the flaws, the eccentricities of every character including why they are the way they are. Having said that, I was a bit disappointed with the plot this time. The twists weren’t necessarily mind-blowing and the climax for me was a bit melodramatic. In the past, Moriarty has always left me wanting to know more about what is going on but I didn’t have that urge this time around. But if you enjoy quirky characters and try not to compare this to her previous best-sellers, it’s a book you will enjoy.
Where to find the author:
Until next time,