London/Dublin, March 2019
Nine strangers seek perfection from a 10 day retreat at Tranquilium House
The one where 9 people attend a luxury retreat at Tranquilium House, each with their individual life moments that lead them there. Headed up by Masha, the survivor of a near fatal heart attack, Tranquilium House is a well-known, well-reputed and luxurious retreat.
We spend a decent portion of the book meeting the collection of characters, reading their backstories and what has brought them to the retreat and their various reactions to it. The narrative is guided mainly through Frances (a writer retreating from a recent poorly reviewed novel) who acts as a type of lynchpin which is handy in a cast this size.
But as the book moves past the mid-point, it becomes clear that all isn’t quite what the guests had expected, when a group session quickly devolves into something else entirely.
I’d felt a bit let down by Moriarty’s last novel, Truly, Madly, Guilty so quite enjoyed this one. Considering the sizeable cast and page count (434), I didn’t get bored and found that each of the characters’ stories were compelling enough to keep the character memorable.
Story-wise, nothing much really happens until about the mid-way point when there’s something of a twist, considering the set-up is a luxury retreat. The only character that felt a bit wooden to me was Masha, the Head of Tranquilium House.
It should have been a mild desire for a beer and sad ache for a beloved pet, but it felt like a raging thirst in the desert and the deepest of heartaches.