By Mollie Campbell.
It is ironic that Nine Perfect Strangers is about cleansing the body and reaching enlightenment, because at the end of this book I felt such a strong sense of clarity it was as if I had been on this transformative retreat, only without the psychotic twist and borderline torture…! Despite some faults, I think this book was written brilliantly, these are a few of the quotes that I liked:
“She got to her feet and looked at the starry sky one last time, but there were no answers up there.”
This probably speaks to me because the grief I have experienced has plagued me with a fair amount of cynicism, especially in regard to religion. It’s funny because personally, I have always felt very tranquil when gazing at the bright blurs of light sitting within the dark sky. Everything feels clearer when I look at stars, but then I get this realisation that we are so far away from them, we will never be able to fully understand them and they will never be able to help us. Maybe that explanation didn’t make sense, but to me it does.
“It was at that moment that Carmel Schneider gave herself to Masha with the same voluptuous abandon that novice nuns once surrendered themselves to God.”
I really liked this quote, whilst I support anyone who chooses to believe in a God, I am not religious and I have always found it fascinating how people are swept up into it. I also find the idea of cults interesting because it is so hard to understand how people are brainwashed so easily, Masha is like one of those cult leaders who prey on the weaknesses or vulnerabilities of the guests, in order to feed into the higher power or knowledge that they think they are conveying or successfully tapping into. This was a pivotal moment in the book for me, how quickly this character has surrendered herself to someone she barely knows.
“The anniversary was tomorrow. Napoleon sensed its dark, malignant shadow. It was irrational to feel frightened of a day. It was just a sad day, a day they were never going to forget anyway. He reminded himself that this was normal. People felt like this on anniversaries. He’d felt this same impending sense of doom last year. Almost as if it were going to happen again, as if this were a story he’d read before and he knew what lay ahead.”
I don’t even need to explain this one, Moriarty has not only described the way grief makes us question ourselves and our sanity, but she has also portrayed the overwhelming impact of anniversaries and milestones and the way they creep up on us, immediately transporting us back to such raw and inescapable pain.
‘Fan through the back’ said Yao. Napoleon fanned through the back and felt his muscles stretch and the sun warm on his face as he tasted the sea from the tears that ran heedlessly down his face. But he wasn’t broken’.
She turned to Masha. She said, ‘Have you been medicating us?’.
‘Do you know what Steve Jobs said? He said that taking LSD was one of the most important, profound experiences of his life.’
‘Oh, well then,’ said Lars, greatly amused.’ If Steve Jobs said we should all take LSD, then we really should!’.
The scenes in which they all feel the effects of the LSD is hilarious, and horrifying at the same time, the fact that they are being drugged against their will is completely insane. I would never have predicted half of the twists and turns in this book, it is thrilling, funny and honest. It is a clever commentary on people and how they see the world, but more importantly on how they see themselves, the difference between male and female body images, and the superficiality of social media.
“Maybe this was how he felt; like his mind, body and soul were shrouded in grey fog. Like there was not much point to anything at all.”
This quote is referring to Zach, Napoleon and Heather’s son who committed suicide. Napoleon is finally starting to try and understand the reason behind why his son did what he did, as opposed to how, or resulting to anger.
There are many quotes I could list here, but these are just a few that really cover some important issues that Moriarty has been brave enough to confront head on. If you haven’t read Nine Perfect Strangers, give it a go. Or if you have read it, I would love to hear some of your thoughts!