2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas, by Marie-Helene Bertino


2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas

By Marie-Helene Bertino

Crown, 2014

272 pages

This quirky novel, set in Philadelphia, tells the stories of multiple characters, over the course of one day.

Madeleine is a 9-year old girl who recently lost her mother and just had a really bad day at school. She also loves jazz and dreams to be a singer. Sarina is Madeleine’s teacher who recently moved back to Philadelphia (where she grew up) after a divorce, and is invited to attend a dinner party with old high school friends, including the boy she went to senior prom with. And Jack Francis Lorca owns the Cat’s Pajamas, a jazz club in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, which is on the verge of getting closed down by the police for violating city codes. The day is December 23rd, the eve of Christmas Eve. This is a fun novel that moves quickly through this one day, from 7:10 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. the next morning, alternating between the lives of the three characters above, and a few more. Each chapter is titled with a time stamp.

I was most drawn to Sarina, as I felt her story, a single woman returning to her hometown, was pretty moving. But Madeleine is a charming young girl struggling to find her place in the world, and Lorca, and his band of musicians, are a lot of fun, and are also coping with what might be the last night their jazz club will be open. I wanted to keep moving through the day with all the characters to see what was going to happen at 2 a.m.! Having lived in Philadelphia, I enjoyed reading a book that captures the unique life of its neighborhoods, in particular the Italian Market and Fishtown. Bertino also captures the small town feel that one gets in Philadelphia. And I liked how jazz was woven into the story, as I have fond memories of the jazz clubs in Philadelphia. This book is a good read with a satisfying ending.

Bertino is from Philadelphia and now lives in New York. In this interview she discusses her process writing the book, and her career as a writer.

I received an e-copy of this book via NetGalley.


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7 responses to “2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas, by Marie-Helene Bertino

  1. louise crawford

    Will pick up this book ASAP. It has segments that pertain to my move to Philadelphia. Not the whole experience, but parts. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. I love supporting writers with a connection to Philadelphia. Louise

  2. louise crawford

    will do. Off to the bookstore tomorrow. Louise

    • louise crawford

      just finished the Cat’s Pajamas and not only did the characters capture my attention, but so did their moving through Philadelphia. And I liked that the three main characters were so different in age. Louise

  3. Pingback: Best Books 2014 | Proto Libro

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