Study Guide

Ben Chandler in Nine Perfect Strangers

By Liane Moriarty

Ben Chandler

If there’s one thing Ben knows it’s that winning the lottery can change your life. That...and the Lamborghini is the perfect car. Way better than the overrated Bugatti.

So, yeah, Ben is kind of into his car. Like...a lot. When he and his wife, Jessica, hit the lottery, the one fancy thing Ben decided to do was buy himself his dream car—a Lamborghini. And, boy, does Ben baby that car. When we first meet him, Ben is super nervous about driving the car through Australian bushland to Tranquillum House.

But Ben’s not just some obnoxious gear head.

Did we mention that, since winning the lottery, Ben’s family relationships and personal happiness have also gone right down the drain? And his marriage is in super serious trouble? Yeah. Turns out money can’t solve all your problems. Who’d have thunk?

To his credit, Ben does know that things between him and Jessica need to change:

If this retreat worked, if they got back to the way they used to be, it was even worth the damage to the car. Obviously it was worth it. Jessica was meant to be the mother of his children—his future children. (5.26)

He’s pretty skeptical of Tranquillum House, but he’s willing to give it a try. In Ben’s mind, he and Jessica just need to go back to their pre-riches dynamic. If she would just be more like the sweet, lovable girl he first met in high school, not the appearance-obsessed social media climber she’s become, everything would be okay.

By the end of the ten days, Ben realizes that his marriage is a failure. They can’t go back to the ways things were, because that’s not what both of them want. Lars helps them divide up their assets, and they go their separate ways.

Of course, Ben does connect with someone else at Tranquillum House. He and Zoe bond over the siblings they’ve lost. Zoe’s brother, Zach, is already dead, while Ben’s sister, Lucy, is struggling with a drug addiction. When Lucy finally dies, Zoe is the first person he turns to:

Ben didn’t ring Jessica to tell her about Lucy straightaway. He couldn’t bear to hear the lack of surprise in her voice. Instead, he dialed Zoe’s number. They’d become online friends and occasional texters since the retreat but they’d never actually talked on the phone.

“Hello, Ben,” she said cheerfully. “How are you?”

“I’m calling—” He found he couldn’t speak. He tried to remember to exhale.

Her tone changed. “Is it your sister?” she said. “Is it Lucy?”

She was there at the funeral. His eyes kept seeking her out. (75.167-171)

Eventually, Ben and Zoe get married and have a child of their own—a toddler named Zach who takes part in Frances and Tony’s wedding. So many happy endings. We just can’t keep track.