Sunday, September 17, 2017

Once in a Blue Moon Lodge by Lorna Landvik

Finding this book in the library was a very happy surprise.  I immediately checked it out and was able to zip through it in a few days.  I read Lorna Landvik's Patty Jane's House of Curl years ago and had enjoyed it but it has been so many years I didn't remember much of the story. I can only remember that it took place in Minnesota and I liked it very much.  Plus, I needed a bit of space after reading A Column of Fire.

In Once in a Blue Moon Lodge, we return to Minnesota,1988.  Patty Jane has decided it's time to close down her House of Curl, etc.  What began as a hair salon morphed into not only a place where you could get a color and a cut, but a salon where the neighbors attended salsa dancing, author visits, music recitals, and all sorts of classes and events.  It was truly an unusual place, and quite popular.  But Patty Jane is ready to travel and enjoy time with her live in partner, Clyde.  Patty's husband, Thor, also lives in the same house.  What I didn't remember from PJHOC was that Patty's husband Thor had left her while she was pregnant with their daughter Nora. Missing for years, he eventually is found and welcomed back into Patty Jane's family. Still legally married to Thor, Patty Jane has an unusual life, for sure--but it all makes sense, and you'll quickly be pulled into the loving, funny, and entertaining Rolvaag family.  

The story moves forward from 1988, with Nora making some life choices that have huge consequences for the whole family.  One of those choices--purchasing a lodge on a lake renamed Ocean by the local townspeople, sets up the rest of the novel. That lodge is named for the blue moon that shines on a significant night in Nora's life.  And I'd like to live at that lodge! 

 As the years go by, you feel like you're part of the Rolvaag family, and it's a pretty sweet family.  The stories of Patty Jane and Clyde, her mother-in-law Ione and her husband Edon (who remind us all that it's never too late for love), and Nora and Thomas are all, at heart, love stories.  All a bit unusual, but steadfast and enduring. As life moves on, and the years go by, the Rolvaag family creates all those precious moments that make up a unique family history.  

While this is a sequel to PJHOC, it can be read as a stand alone.  Lorna Landvik lays enough back story for you to catch up on the family history and not feel like you've missed anything.  But, I can say with certainty that you'll want to read PJHOC because you'll love the writing, the community, and the warmth.  I'd say this reminded me of an American version of a Jenny Colgan novel. Toss in a whole lot of Norwegian culture, Midwest charm, and some delicious baking, and I think you'll find this read as irresistible as I did. Both novels would make an excellent Christmas gift .

Rating:  4/6 for a welcome return to Minnesota.  Landvik's characters are well crafted, charming, and memorable--especially Ione and Edon.   

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