The first three episodes of Nine Perfect Strangers – the latest drama from Big Little Lies and The Undoing’s Nicole Kidman and David E Kelley – arrived on Hulu in the US today (the series is arriving on Friday on Amazon Prime Video for UK fans), with the eight-part series adapting Liane Moriarty’s novel of the same name for the small screen.
Featuring a star-studded cast, Nine Perfect Strangers follows a group of city-dwellers as they arrive at Tranquillum House, a wellness and health retreat led by its mysterious Russian manager Masha (Kidman).
If you’re already seen the show’s first instalments then you’ll know Tranquillum House doesn’t turn out to be your standard health resort – however, there are a number of differences between the TV show and the book, including the characters’ appearances, the show’s setting and even some of the bigger storylines.
Read on for all the key differences between the book and the TV show. (Warning: spoilers ahead for episodes one, two and three of Nine Perfect Strangers.)
The book is set in Australia
Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers is set in the bushland of Australia, with Tranquillum House located six hours northwest of Sydney, where most of the characters hail from.
However, the TV show is set in an unspecified location in North America, with the implication being that Tranquillum House is located in a remote part of California. For more details, see our Nine Perfect Strangers location guide.
All of the characters, except for Russian resort manager Masha (Nicole Kidman) and Lars (who like Luke Evans is Welsh), are American, which is a big difference from the novel.
Frances loses it for a different reason
In episode one, we watch as a driving Frances (Melissa McCarthy) receives terrible news from her literary agent, who tells her that the publisher she’s tied to wants to buy her out of her contract. She pulls over in shock and then gets out the car to scream in frustrating, shouting: “I’m dead to the f**king world” at the top of her lungs – at which point Tony (Bobby Cannavale) stops his car to ask if she’s alright.
In the book, however, Frances pull over after having a reaction to thinking of Paul Drabble, the man who catfished her and conned her out of thousands of dollars.
“A sudden rush of intense heat enveloped her body at the memory. Humiliation? Probably. Her head swam. She shivered and shook. Her hands were instantly slippery on the steering wheel. Pull over, she told herself. You need to pull over right now,” the book reads.
While Frances does scream in anger, she does so from inside her car, and it isn’t until later on in the book that her literary agent tells her that her publisher doesn’t want her new book.
Jessica has “blowfish lips” and a “frozen forehead” in the book
Rich, young couple Ben (Melvin Gregg) and Jessica (Samara Weaving) head to Tranquillum House to mend their relationship after their recent fortune caused it to deteriorate, and while Weaving shines as the social-media obsessed and vain Jessica, the character isn’t as botoxed as she’s described in the book.
In Moriarty’s novel, Ben describes Jessica as someone “disfigured by her own credit card” due to the amount of plastic surgery she has had, adding that she looks like “a chipmunk” with “the frozen forehead, the blowfish lips, the puffy cheeks, the camel eyelashes, the fake hair and fake boobs”.
While Weaving’s Jessica wears quite a lot of make-up and nails the Instagram influencer look, she’s missing the “plastic” qualities of the character as described in the novel.
Masha isn’t shot in the book
The ongoing mystery throughout Prime Video’s Nine Perfect Strangers revolves around Masha, who reveals in episode one that she was shot by an unknown attacker when working in a high-pressured job in the city and subsequently saved by Yao (Manny Jacinto), who was a paramedic at the time. She says that it was this near-death experience that inspired her to set up Tranquillum House and adopt a healthier lifestyle.
In the book however, Masha isn’t shot at all – in fact, her stressful lifestyle causes her to have a seizure, with paramedic Yao turning up at the scene and saving her life. It is the seizure that inspires her to set up Tranquillum House.
Since Masha isn’t shot in the book, it also means that she isn’t stalked by her anonymous attacker nor is she sent threatening messages in the book.
The TV series misses out the book’s quiet period
In Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers, the guests arrive at Tranquillum House to find that they must take part in a five-day “quiet period”, where they’re not allowed to speak to one another for the first five days of the retreat.
For understandable reasons, this was left out of the show – it wouldn’t make for particularly interesting TV if the stars weren’t allowed to talk for half the series.
Tony isn’t addicted to pain killers
In the Amazon Prime Video series, we quickly learn that Tony (Cannavale) is addicted to pain killers after being prescribed them for injury he’d sustained years before, and takes his frustration out on the Tranquillum House staff for removing them from him.
In the book, while Tony does suffer an injury earlier on in his life, he’s not addicted to pain killers.
Frances doesn’t choke on a grape
Over the course of Nine Perfect Strangers, Frances and Tony form an amusing love-hate relationship, perfectly encapsulated in the second episode when Tony throws a grape into the mouth of a sleeping Frances, who subsequently chokes before receiving the Heimlich manoeuvre from a guilty Tony.
This doesn’t happen in Moriarty’s book and while Frances and Tony do form a friendship of sorts, his character isn’t featured heavily in the novel.
Carmel doesn’t attack Lars across the table
Those who’ve seen the first three episodes of Nine Perfect Strangers will know that the guests begin to behave rather erratically as the retreat goes on, with Carmel lunging at Lars over breakfast one morning after the wellness retreat regular makes a barbed comment at her expense.
This doesn’t actually happen in the book and neither does Carmel and Lars’ first meeting prior to them arriving at Tranquillum House.
Nine Perfect Strangers is available to stream on Hulu in the US, with the first three episodes arriving on Amazon Prime Video in the UK on Friday 20th August. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.. You can buy Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers on Amazon. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.