Study Guide

Nine Perfect Strangers Power

By Liane Moriarty

Power

The guy stepped back, but Masha clicked her fingers at him for the folder, and he instantly jumped forward and handed it over. He obviously considered Masha scarier than Finn, which was saying something, because Finn was a big, strong guy. (1.32)

Even ten years before she opened Tranquillum House, Masha was a force to be reckoned with.

“The smoothies are mandatory,” said Yao kindly. It was confusing because you’d think from his tone that he’d said, “They are optional.” (57.177)

By controlling what their guests eat, Masha and staff are able to exert a whole lot of power over the lives of these strangers. Then again, who doesn’t love a mandatory smoothie?

“You are free to leave at any time, Tony. You are not a prisoner! This is a health resort, not a jail!” (13.12)

Okay, this may be the most ironic thing Masha has ever said. While it may be true that her guests were not prisoners at the start of the retreat, this definitely changes by day six.

Interviewers would one day ask, “Were you nervous when you first introduced the new protocol?” Masha would answer, “Not at all. We’d done our research. We knew from the beginning it would be a success.” It might be better to admit to a little nervousness. People in this country admired humility. The biggest compliment you could give a successful woman was to describe her as “humble.” (13.34)

Delusions of grandeur? Masha definitely has them. She might pretend like she wants to help people, but Masha also wants the power and the glory of people knowing that she’s the best at helping people.

“I don’t think you do,” said Masha. “I think you are here for a little rest, and you are quite happy with the way you are now. I think this is all a little bit of joke to you. You prefer not to take things too seriously in your life, yes?” Her accent had deepened.

Frances reminded herself that this woman had no authority over her. (23.42-43)

Frances is right to be a little suspicious of Masha. This lady isn’t her boss. She can’t tell her what to do. Well, Masha’s about to fix that.

“You are a woman in the prime of your life! You should march into a room with your head held high! Like you are walking onto a stage, a battlefield!”

Carmel stared. “I’ll try?” she said. She coughed, and remembered to turn it into a statement. “I will try. I will try to do that.” (24.36-37)

Carmel is feeling deflated and powerless after her divorce, and there’s nothing Masha hates more than weakness. She advises her to hold her head up high and reclaim her voice. But even if that’s good advice, it’s coming from a lunatic, so take it with a grain of salt.

The clincher had been when he’d tried the psychedelic therapy himself with Masha as his guide. Delilah hadn’t been there—it was her weekend off—but when she saw Yao next he had an even crazier, more obsessive blaze in his eyes than before, and he was quoting from the research as if it was the research that had changed his mind when it was just the power of hallucinogenic drugs and the power of Masha. (57.66)

Delilah isn’t swayed by the awe-inspiring power of Masha. But Yao? Oh, he’s under her spell big time.

She touched Yao lightly in the center of his chest with her finger. She knew the power of her touch on him. She had not yet fully exploited that power but she would if necessary. (59.15)

Even Masha knows the hold she has on Yao. And she’s not afraid to use it when she needs to get him to go along with one of her workplace schemes. You know, like drugging and kidnapping a group of people. All in a day’s work.

Masha’s glittering, glorious future lay ahead and these ungrateful dolts stood in the way of it. Masha had anticipated yearlong waiting lists after the news of their success got out. Prices would rise to reflect the demand. These people had been offered this incredible program for a bargain-basement price and they did nothing but moan. (65.15)

This is the price of fame and glory—to be constantly foiled by the weak and pathetic. Masha could be achieving great things! She could be making health and wellness breakthroughs! If only it weren’t for these morons who refused to have the breakthroughs and make her into a superstar.

“You do know you’re not really on death row, don’t you? This is just a stupid power game for that maniac.”

“Shhh,” hissed Frances. “She could be listening.”

“I don’t care,” said Heather recklessly. “I’m not scared of her.”

“I kind of think you should be.” Frances shot another uneasy look at the screen. (67.9-12)

Heather is ready to stand up to Masha, but the other guests aren’t so sure. Hey, she’s the one holding all the cards (and the code to their locked room). So maybe Frances has a point. It’s time to play nice with the lady in power.

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