Saturday, September 27, 2014

2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas; Marie-Helene Bertino

2 A.M at the Cat's Pajamas; Marie-Helene Bertino
Random House Audio - Crown - 2014

2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas tells the story of three lost souls who search for love and meaning over the course of a 24-hour period on a snowy Philadelphia night.

Nine year-old Madeleine Altimai is mourning the loss of her mother. Her father is emotionally absent while he deals with his own grief. School is no solace or safe and happy place thanks to the meanness of some of her classmates, but Madeleine is resilient. She has a wise mouth so she can give what she gets, even though she finds herself expelled from school after an incident. This Christmas Madeleine's luck is about to change.

Madeleine is by far my favorite character in this story. Clinging to the few things left for her by her mother - a love of singing and jazz music and,  a recipe box full of practical things Madeleine needs to know in life. In the box her mother left she tells her daughter how to write a thank you card for a gift you hate, how to fix a flat tire, and gives her the encouragement to do the things you are afraid to do. This spunky girl with a terrific voice is determined to find the Cat's Pajamas and to sing onstage.

Another character in this story is Madeleine's teacher Sarina Greene. Sarina is newly divorced and is invited to a dinner party she has no interest in attending. She forces herself to go in the hopes of seeing an old high school crush named Ben.

As for The Cat's Pajamas, in its prime it was the place everyone wanted to go, but now it may be forced to shut down notice unless Lorca, the club owner comes up with $30,000 to pay off a fine.

I had a little trouble with this novel, although I loved the whole Madeleine storyline, and thought that the author did a good job weaving three story lines together with the jazz club center stage, there was a surreal element which put me off a bit. The author's writing was good and the theme, second chances, appealed to me. Although I enjoyed most about this book, I'm not sure it will appeal to everyone, but it certainly was still a pretty solid read. The audio book was read by Angela Goethals who did a very good job.

4/5 stars
(audio book sent by publisher)


  1. I've heard mixed things about this book - maybe because of the surreal elements? I'll probably give it a try one of these days.

  2. Diane, I'm not sure what you mean by "a surreal element", but the book sounds very good anyway, overall. I'm glad you enjoyed listening to this one.

    1. The story turns a bit magical when the young girl sings at the club -- kinda fairy-tale like element.

  3. Not sure it's for me, but I enjoyed reading your review and learned more about this title that I've seen around. Thanks.

  4. I don't usually read books with magical elements. I was sent this one unsolicited but I'll probably pick it up someday. You've been doing some lovely reviews!

  5. I've seen some great reviews for this one but I'm not sure it's for me I'm glad you enjoyed it and I know someone I'll have to recommend this too. Great review!

  6. This is the second review I've read about having trouble with the surreal element. I'm not a big surreal person, so I'll probably skip this one.

  7. Your review is spot-on. I'd have loved this book had it not been for that ending!

  8. I totally forgot I had this one! I did some reorganizing of my book shelf and I think I moved it upstairs. Hence, me forgetting about it. I must pick it up, although I do hope the surreal bit works for me.


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