I have not read Big Little Lies or any other books by Moriarty, so I came with no expectations, and I was not exactly pulled in, but this definitely grew on me. By about half way through, I cared enough about the characters to forge on. A nine character story is tough to pull off. Nine strangers who all converge on a wellness spa in a remote town in Australia: a romance novelist, a former pro athlete, a divorce attorney, a young couple with marriage trouble and too much money, a mother of four whose husband recently left her, and a family of three who lost a son three years prior, on his 18th birthday. I don’t especially like spas–especially one called Tranquillum House–and I don’t like romance novels or pro sports. After the first few chapters, I didn’t much care for the three or four characters introduced by then, though the spa owner was intriguing in a creepy sort of way.
However, by the end, I especially liked the grieving family of three and the romance novelist, Frances. And Masha, the powerful, creepy owner, continued to pull me in. It ended up being a fast read, kind of entertaining, and relevant–after all, we all carry similar emotions: grief and loss, questions about worth and value, the role of money, desire for love, and happiness for our children. So in a way, we can identify with every character. Even the ones we seemingly have nothing in common with. While I didn’t love this book, I definitely liked it and finished it in just a few days.