Patty Jane's House of Curl

( 31 )

Overview

Patty Jane's House of Curl is an easy-to-read, joyous and funny story of a family of women, the tragedies in their lives, the strengths they find within themselves, and their ultimate victories. It follows the lives of two wacky Minnesota sisters, Patty Jane and Harriet, in a female Lake Wobegon where humor and hope overcome life's trials.
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Overview

Patty Jane's House of Curl is an easy-to-read, joyous and funny story of a family of women, the tragedies in their lives, the strengths they find within themselves, and their ultimate victories. It follows the lives of two wacky Minnesota sisters, Patty Jane and Harriet, in a female Lake Wobegon where humor and hope overcome life's trials.
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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
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
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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780449911006
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/1996
  • Series: Reader's Circle Series
  • Edition description: Reprinted Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 219,068
  • Product dimensions: 5.11 (w) x 7.99 (h) x 0.66 (d)

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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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.

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Reading Group Guide

1. What kind of childhood did Patty Jane and Harriet have? How has their childhood affected the course of their adult lives?

2. Why is Thor terrified by his impending fatherhood? Do you think he was really ready to embrace it before he disappeared?

3. The private investigator hired to track Thor down remarks that the good-looking never seem to have close friends. What do you think of this statement? Is there any merit in it?

4. Why does Patty Jane refuse anesthesia when she is in labor? Discuss the various reactions to her behavior during labor.

5. How would you describe the family that Patty Jane and Harriet create for themselves? Discuss the families that we are born into and the ones we create.

6. How do Ione and Patty Jane navigate the dangerous currents in their relationship? Do you think you could do the same in a similar situation? Would you want to?

7. The characters in this novel use Patty Jane's House of Curl as a place to unburden themselves. What other places might people go to share their problems? Would you like to spend some time at the House of Curl? Or do you already have a House of Curl in your life?

8. Why do you think Avel's sisters hate him so much?

9. What do you think provoked Esme Ames's change of heart? Discuss how it can take a loss to make people value what they have as opposed to what they do not have.

10. Harriet says that "too much thought scared her, that she was happier doing than thinking." Why do you think she feels this way? Do you agree?

11. Harriet's decision to face the ghosts from her past almost costs her her life. What do you think separates those who hurt themselves in the face of great pain from those who are able to channel their demons more constructively?

12. Why does Patty Jane finally let Harriet go down the dangerous path she has chosen? What does it cost each of them? Do you think Patty Jane made the right deci-sion by letting go?

13. Why does it take Patty Jane and Clyde so long to get together? What are the obstacles in their path?

14. Did the explanation of Thor's disappearance surprise you?

15. In what ways do the rest of the characters underesti-mate the Thor who returns to them? Do you think he understands what has happened to him?

16. What frees Ione to finally begin the traveling she waited her whole life to do? Discuss the dangers of using other people's needs to avoid addressing your own.

17. Discuss the varied reactions to Harriet's illness by her family and friends. Is there a "right" way to respond to such news?

18. Why doesn't Patty Jane ever divorce Thor?

19. "What a big chunk of God is to be found by looking into the face of someone you love!" Discuss the signifi-cance of this statement--both the good and the bad.

20. "Honey, life can be a ballroom dance and it can be full of shit. Your job in both cases is to watch where you step." These are the words to live by that Patty Jane imparts to her daughter. Do you agree with this state-ment? If you had to boil down your own philosophy of life into one sentence, how would it read?

21. Are there any characters you would like to have heard more (or less) from? Why or why not?

22. If you could ask the author a question of your own, what would it be?

23. How does your group decide what to read? What are you reading next?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 31 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 25, 2010

    A cute book-

    A book about sisters who run a hair salon together. It reminds me of the bonds between sisters. I loved that part. The sisters talk all about the ways they fall in love, all the ways they lose love, their children and babies, etc. I thought this was a good, light book to read between a "heavy" book. It is cute, sad and happy (all the things a good book has). You will like this book, recommend it to a girlfriend so you can discuss it later together.

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  • Posted February 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting Story

    Overall I liked this book, it had lots of unexpected turns throughout. The last few chapters I did not see coming at all. It puts you through a roller coaster of emtotions, with joys and sorrows around every corner. I really liked the characters and you find yourself hoping for the best to come for them. I would recommend it as a good weekend read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2007

    Lorna Lonvik is a delight.

    This book is simply delightful! As in 'Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons,' the focus is a closely-knit group of women. Sometimes it seems that if these women didn't have bad luck, they'd have no luck at all. They seem to thrive on adversity and the shine. It's a 'feel good' book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2006

    GREAT READ!

    PATTY JANE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER TO GET MARRIED TO MY HANDSOME THOR, BUT SHE WAS BITTEN TWICE BY THE LOVE BUG. FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN MARRIAGE, THEN PATTY JANE WITH A BABY CARRIAGE, THEN GOES HER HUSBAND OUT THE DOOR. BUT, IT'S A GOOD THING P.J. HAS A STRONG WILL TO GO ON LIVING AND A GREAT SISTER, HARRIET. HARRIET, IS GOOD TOO. SHE GOT SOUL AND A LOVELY VOICE TO MATCH AND A GUY WHO MIGHT BE SHORT IN HEIGHT BUT NOT IN SHORT IN LOVE. SO, PATTY AND HARRIET OPENS A BEAUTY SALOON, FOR IT'S BEEN SAID SO MANY TIME A GOOD HAIRCUT CAN CURE ANY NUMBER OF ILLS. IT'S A WONDERFUL HEARTWARMING BOOK, WHERE THERE'S FRIENDS YOU CAN ALWAYS COUNT ON, LOTS OF LAUGHTER, TEARS AND GOOD COMFORT. IT'S ABOUT THE UPS AND DOWNS OF THESE TWO WONDERFUL FEMALE CHARCTERS AND THE BOND THEY SHARE. LIKE PATTY JANE'S BEAUTY SHOP SLOGAN, 'EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED AND... A GOOD HAIRCUT TOO!' WELL I SAY, EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED AND... A GOOD BOOK TO READ TOO! TO QUOTE P.J. 'HONEY, LIFE CAN BE A BALLROON DANCE AND IT CAN BE FULL OF POOP, YOUR JOB IS IN BOTH CASES, IS TO WATCH WHERE YOU STEP'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2006

    Great Book

    I just finished this great book. I laughed and cryed. Thankfully, I was home alone when I was crying. This book went full circle.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2006

    Good Read!

    I thorough enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone --- it is an easy read, has lots of smiles and quite a few tears included. Definitely worth your time!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2005

    Good good book.

    This was such a good book, although like the review on the cover said, it is spiked with sadness. A few points I just wanted to put it down and cry, specially at the end of Part One, I loved Avel (spelling) so much.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2005

    Great Book!

    Funny, sad, charming and delightful! This book should be made into a movie! It has that 'Fried Green Tomatoes' appeal. Loved it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2004

    Hilarious...

    Landvik again captures the endearing quirkiness in each of her well-developed characters. I still smile when I think of Amel & Harriet on their first date. I highly recommend all of her books for those who enjoy a funny & heartwarming tale!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2003

    Patty Jane's House of Curl

    I just love this book. The story made me laugh and cry. I really felt that I knew the characters in the book, like close friends. I read this book when it first came out and I am reading it for the second time, and I have enjoyed the book just as much the second time around. I read alot and this is by far my favorite book. I think Lorna Landvick is a wonderful writer and I have enjoyed all her books and can't wait to read her new book about the angry housewives!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2003

    Patty Jane's House of Curl

    I have just finished reading this story for the second time. I absolutely love this book. The characters are so real and they become a part of you. It is so hard to put this book down once you start reading because you can't wait to see what will happen next. Reading this book also put my own life into perspective and left me with the feeling of appreciation for all I have in my life. This story also demonstates that through the hard times in life you need to keep going, never give up, always be thankful for the time you have on this earth, and to cherish those special in your life. Lorna Landvick is a wonderful author and I can't wait to read her new book about the angry housewives!! This book is a must read!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2002

    Ya gotta read this one, youbetcha!

    Lorna Landvik conjures up laughter through tears and this memorable, inspired debut lingers like the northern lights over a Minnesota lake.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2002

    Wonderful characters!

    An entertaining, amusing book that tugs at the heartstrings. Landvik doesn't waste a word, a scenario, or a moment. 'House of Curl' is one of those books you can't put aside until you've read every word.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2002

    The best book I have ever read!

    I live in Minneapolis and I loved reading about all of the local places in the book. The story is wonderful. Funny...yet true and sincere. It has a great sense of real life without the fluff.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2001

    Loved It!

    Another WONDERFUL book! I was hooked from the first page & couldn't put it down! READ THIS ONE!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2001

    A wonderful story!

    I'm not one to read a lot of books, but I have to say as soon as I picked up this book, I didn't want to put it down. Well written with lots of emotions and laughter! I absolutely loved this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2000

    Uffda! What a neat book!

    I'm reading PJHC for the second time. I am originally from Minnesota and the first time through this book, I was simply leaping from one familiar Minneapolis location to the next, enjoying the trip down memory lane. This time my book group is doing it and I am reading more critically. I am finding that I missed some of the foreshadowing the first time I read it. I am laughing out loud once again as I picture the salon with the scented bandanas in use! Although this is not a deep study of human character, don't make the mistake of not taking it just a little bit seriously. We all know these characters, or at least parts of them. This book is delightful. I recommend it highly!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2000

    Steel Magnolias meets Friends

    I simply adored PJHOC. It was probably the most hilarious book I have read all year! The characters are lovable and quirky. You are hooked from page one. I laughed, I cried.....need I say more?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2000

    Excellent Story!!!

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end. I laughed and cried. I loved the characters so much that I wanted to jump into the book and become part of their circle.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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