2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas
By Marie-Helene Bertino
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.
I received an e-copy of this book via NetGalley.