Patty Jane's House of Curl by Lorna Landvik, first published in 1995, is a story of friendship, family and endurance. It is at times funny, heartbreaking, joyous and inspiring. The story details how an unlikely family of women stick together through thick or thin, triumphing over the obstacles that life throws at them with humor and perseverance.
Patty Jane Rolvaag, proprietor of Patty Jane's House of Curl, has made it through some tough times in her life. Growing up in an alcoholic household, being apparently abandoned by her husband shortly before the birth of their daughter, and watching her sister struggle with alcoholism herself all contribute to Patty Jane's determination to build a better life for her and her daughter.
Thor Rolvaag was considered by many to be the most handsome man in Minneapolis when he and Patty Jane were married in the summer of 1953. He laughed off Patty Jane's assertions that she had conceived on their wedding night, until it became obvious that she indeed was pregnant. Thor's fear of loving someone that much led him astray, seemingly never to return. Two days after his disappearance, Patty Jane delivered a healthy baby girl, Nora. Thor's mother, Ione, and Patty Jane's sister, Harriet, took over caring for things while Patty Jane recovered from the loss of her husband, forming a tight-knit family. Over the years, Harriet endures her own tragic loss, Patty Jane attends beauty school and opens up her own place - the House of Curl. The shop becomes a neighborhood gathering spot, and Patty Jane branches out to offer edifying and empowering programs to the local women.
In an incredible plot twist, after several years of being absent, Thor is located and returned home, having suffered irreversible brain damage which kept him from returning home on his own. Although everyone's circumstances have changed, Thor is welcomed back into the family - he is still legally married to Patty Jane, after all. In the end, the family endures yet another loss, yet Patty Jane and the others once again come together and celebrate all the life and love in their world. This one is a tearjerker!