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Patty Jane's House of Curl: A Novel

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Patty Jane's House of Curl

A Novel

By Lorna Landvik

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Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Published In: United States, 01 February 2005
Patty Jane Dobbin should have known to marry a man as gorgeous as Thor Rolvaag, but she was too smitten to think twice. Yet nine months into their marriage, with a baby on the way, Thor is gone. It's a good thing Patty Jane has her irrepressible sister, Harriet, to rely on. For it's been said that a fine haircut can cure any number of ills, and before long the Minnesota sisters have opened a neighborhood beauty parlor complete with live harp music and an endless supply of delicious Norwegian baked goods. It's a wonderful, warmhearted place where you can count on good friends, lots of laughter, tears, and comfort when you need it--and the unmistakable scent of somebody getting a permanent wave. . . .

About the Author

Lorna Landvik is also the author of the bestselling Your Oasis on Flame Lake and the upcoming The Tall Pine Polka. She has worked as an actor, a comedian, and a speed typist in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and their dog, Petunia.


In this upbeat novel about two sisters living in Minnesota between the 1950s and the 1980s, Patty Jane marries young, is abandoned by her husband, and lives with baby daughter Nora and mother-in-law Ione. Patty Jane's sister, Harriet, is engaged to a millionaire, who is killed in an airplane crash just before the wedding. When Patty Jane opens a beauty parlor called "The House of Curl," it quickly becomes the locale of a women's support group. The women gossip, take a variety of classes at the beauty parlor, and console one another when needed. Harriet becomes an alcoholic and lives in the streets until she is saved by a policeman and falls in love again. Patty Jane falls in love with her male manicurist and is jolted when her missing husband reappears. This first novel by former stand-up comic Landvik portrays the vicissitudes of life, the bonding of women, and the ties of family. While sometimes predictable, it is always amusing and should appeal to a large audience.-Stephanie Furtsch, New Rochelle P.L., N.Y.

"Fun and funny, spiked with tragedy and sad times."--USA Today


"Patty Jane's House of Curl has the emotional warmth of Lake Wobegon and the tender/tough female characters who populated Fried Green Tomatoes. . . . A unique story."--St. Paul Pioneer Press



"Lorna Landvik stands by her characters . . . embracing their eccentricities, delighting in their accomplishments, forgiving them their failings. She knows these people and loves them--and gives us their story with uncommon wit and charm and, best of all, a wonderful sense of mischief."--STEVEN ZAILLIAN Oscar-winning writer of the screenplay for Schindler's List

"Patty Jane's House of Curl is the story of women 'who were lucky enough to find a place where they could not only talk, but be heard.' Like Ione's famous coffee cakes, the frosting may be treacle-sweet, but underneath there's something substantial."--The Dallas Morning News

"This book is worth reading and rereading. . . . Landvik evokes female bonding and tragedy in a humorous way."--The Register-Herald (West Virginia)

"Funny and romantic . . . Peopled with characters so real, so warm, so funny, the book could be a Northern Exposure in print. . . . Readers will be reminded that this is what it is like to live."--The Stuart News

"A cast of characters funny, sad, and real. You can't help but laugh and shed a tear. Has been compared to Fannie Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, but for Midwesterners it holds a special appeal with a terrific sense of place."--BookWomen (Minnesota)

"Amazingly vivid . . . This novel breezes merrily along, but don't read it without a hankie. This is a winner for fans of Garrison Keillor and Danielle Steel."--Library Journal

This debut novel's campy title promises good-natured gossip, women baring their souls and their gray roots to understanding hairdressers. Yet although Landvik builds her plot around two close-knit Minnesota sisters, Patty Jane and Harriet, she doesn't so much conjure a beauty shop as explain, in sentimental terms, how her kindhearted principals survive hardship. The story, which oscillates between optimism and tragedy, begins in 1953, at Patty Jane's wedding to handsome Norwegian Thor; that evening, the bride becomes pregnant, frightening her husband and eventually prompting his mysterious disappearance only days before their daughter is born. Meanwhile, Harriet falls in love with Avel, a doting millionaire. They're blissfully happy together, so when Avel goes on a business trip just before their scheduled nuptials, it's a sure bet his plane will crash. The ensuing years pass quickly as the sisters adjust to single life. Patty Jane opens the eponymous salon and raises her daughter, while Harriet, who never quite gets over Avel, develops a drinking problem. Both women will love again, but new troubles are in store. Landvik uses the latter half of the book to grandstand against alcohol and cigarettes; the characters praise AA, and one key player succumbs to lung cancer. Everyone finds consolation in the homespun wisdom that peppers every page (``grief is a lot like sobriety; you get through it one day at a time''). Family bonds‘if not beauty-salon solidarity‘triumph in this unpretentious tale. British rights to Little, Brown UK. (Sept.)

EAN: 9780449911006
ISBN: 0449911004
Publisher: Fawcett
Dimensions: 20.37 x 13.21 x 1.83 centimetres (0.23 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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1 review(s)
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Elli on
Lorna Landvik writes along the same vein as Fannie Flagg, but doesn't quite have the same charm. Characters are well formed, and the novel is an easy reader, but there was never a kind of went along at the same pace for the whole book, and when something dramatic did happen, I'd already guessed it was on the cards a couple of chapters ago! A cute read, but nothing new.

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