Thank You to the University of Minnesota Press for providing me with an advanced copy of Lorna Landvik’s novel, Once in a Blue Moon Lodge, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT – Set in both Minnesota and Norway, spanning decades, Lorna Landvik’s latest novel, Once in a Blue Moon Lodge, continues the story of Patty Jane and her family. Patty Jane’s daughter, Nora, finds herself falling in love with a Norwegian doctor, just as she discovers that she’s pregnant with triples from a one-night stand. Ione, Patty Jane’s mother, visits Norway to see her dying cousin and rekindles a romance with a boyfriend from her youth. Patty Jane has shut down her salon and is enjoying retired life with her long-time boyfriend. She also has a new venture, helping Nora start her lakeside lodge, including the reboot of Patty Jane’s popular learning series, where locals attend such things as lectures, concerts, and dance classes.
LIKE– I’ve been a longtime fan of Landvik’s writing and I’ve enjoyed her previous novels. There is a sweetness to her storytelling, that I compare to something akin to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series. Both are filled with relatable, likable characters, and they each balance the heartbreak and joys of life.
My favorite part of Once in a Blue Moon Lodge, was the flashbacks to Ione’s childhood in Norway. This was the storyline that packed the biggest punch with regard to drama and mystery. I also enjoyed the setting of Norway. I have distant relatives in Norway, that like the characters in Landvik’s novels, immigrated and ended up settling in Minnesota. Her characters, their gentle humor and world view, feel like home to me. It’s this aspect that probably draws me towards Landvik’s novels the most.
Landvik peppers her story with Norwegian words and phrases. “Uff Da” is a phrase that my mom used all of the time, but I was surprised by how many Norwegian words were similar or flat out the same, as ones that I know from being around my Swedish step-children. I’ve never been great with learning foreign languages, so it was exciting to make those connections.
DISLIKE– Once in a Blue Moon Lodge is not as compelling as Landvik’s previous novels. I was unevenly interested in the various plots. For example, Silvia and Harry’s courtship and Broadway musical aspirations/success felt forced. I wasn’t very interested in the triplets. I thought about why this might be the case and I suspect that it had to do with the glut of plot lines and characters. There was so much going on, that I didn’t have a chance to invest deeply in any one character or plot. I would have rather had less and felt more. My focus waning, I actually set Once in a Blue Moon Lodge, aside, and finished another book, before going back to Landvik.
RECOMMEND– Maybe. Yes, if you’ve read Landvik’s other books and need to find out what happens with her beloved characters. However, if this is your first time reading Landvik, I’d like to direct you to Patty Jane’s House of Curl instead. Read Landvik, but don’t start with this one!