Patty Jane's House of Curl by Lorna Landvik, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Patty Jane's House of Curl

Patty Jane's House of Curl

4.5 31
by Lorna Landvik
     
 

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Patty Jane Dobbin should have known better than 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,

Overview

Patty Jane Dobbin should have known better than 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. . . .

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Fun and funny, spiked with tragedy and sad times.”
—USA Today

“A FUNNY, POIGNANT FIRST NOVEL ABOUT THE BONDS BETWEEN WOMEN.”
—Houston Chronicle

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

“WARM, TENDER, ULTIMATELY INSPIRATIONAL.”
—West Coast Review of Books

“HOMESPUN WISDOM PEPPERS EVERY PAGE.”
—Publishers Weekly

“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

Chandra Y. Sparks
The salon allows Patty Jane and Harriet to open themselves up to love from new men even as they struggle to let go of their pasts. Amid the smells of permanent waves, Norwegian pastries and the gales of laughter, the sisters discover that men may come and go but a sister’s love is forever. Reminiscent of “Steel Magnolias,” Patty Jane's House of Curl will make you laugh, cry and open your heart to love.
Romantic Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.)
Library Journal
When her husband, Thor, disappears on the eve of the birth of their first child, Patty Jane is philosophical. Her sister Harriet and her mother-in-law stand by and offer support. After the baby is born, Patty Jane opts for beauty school as a way to make a living and establishes the House of Curl. Over the next 30 years, the House of Curl becomes a cultural center in the suburbs of the Twin Cities, Minnesota. Customers can get a perm, hear a lecture, drink coffee, catch up on news, learn a new skill, find a babysitter, or just hang out. The cast of eccentric characters make life at the House of Curl both amusing and enjoyable. The exaggeratedly odd twists and turns of life in this environment keep the listener guessing, with tragedy following comedy. Author Landvik reads in flat Minnesotan tones. Recommended.Joanna M. Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Coll. of Continuing Education Lib., Providence
Usa Today
Fun and funny, spiked with tragedt and sad times.
USA Today
Fun and funny, spiked with tragedt and sad times.
Dallas Moring News
The story of women who were lucky enough to find a place where they could not only talk, but be heard

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780449911006
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/28/1996
Series:
Reader's Circle Series
Edition description:
Reprinted Edition
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
154,027
Product dimensions:
5.11(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.66(d)

Read an Excerpt

Prologue

PATTY JANE KEPT a drawer full of cotton bandanas spritzed with dimestore perfume - Tabu and Evening in Paris and, occasionally, My Sin, which I thought was a chic as chic could get. I helped out at the House of Curl after school and on Saturdays. Whenever anyone stank up the place with a permanent wave, I would be called upon to distribute the bandanas and tie them carefully, the way a nurse ties a doctor's surgical mask, over the nose and mouth of our customers. Everyone in the shop wore them (except for Clyde Chuka, the manicurist, who said Tabu gave him a worse headache than permanent-wave solution) so that the room looked overtaken by a bunch of Old West bandits assembled for a Dippety-Doo heist.

"Scented kerchiefs are one of the nice touches that separates our establishment from the others," Patty Jane often said. Other nice touches included homemade banana bread served with coffee to women basting under hair dryers; pale green smocks monogrammed with the initials of our regulars (we kept a supply of less personalized smocks—"V.I.P" and "First Lady"—on hand for walk-ins); and harp concerts courtesy of my Aunt Harriet, whose accompaniment to my bandana distribution was always the William Tell Overture.

Patty Jane, my mother, was big on nice touches.

"For cripes' sake," she said, "if you can't be a class act, why bother?"

She studied what society news was to be found in the Minneapolis Star as if she were a candidate for a PhD in High Living; she drove her rattly old DeSota around Lake of the Isles, picking out mansions she would live in were her inheritance more sizable than a pair of turquoise cuff links and an incomplete set of 1947 World Books; she tried on designer dresses at Dayton's Oval Room and Powers and then had my grandmother sew up copies on her heavy black Pfaff sewing machine.

"Just because my life began in the bargain basement," she said, "doesn't mean I can't take the escalator to Fine Crystals."

Truth be told, if my mother were to spend any time in Fine Crystals, it was guaranteed something would break.

Meet the Author

Lorna Landvik is also the author of the bestselling Your Oasis on Flame Lake and 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.

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