Marie-Helene Bertino's novel about a 9-year-old aspiring jazz singer named Madeleine unfolds in language that's like jazz itself: lithe and liquid and surprising. Three separate storylines--one Madeleine's, one her teacher's, and one of the hard-up owner of the jazz club The Cat's Pajamas--converge at 2 AM. But interwoven with these three main plotlines are many smaller strands, like little riffs and improvisations mingling with the melody. The result is a charming confection of a book, sassy and funny and sweet. There is a small subplot near the end (you will know it when you get there) that goes off the rails and I don't understand the point of it. I would recommend this book to people who are interested in character driven novels.
This is one of those books that I might have to go back and read closer to pick up things I have missed. It followed several characters in the course of a day/night and how all their lives connect. Quick read and interesting story. I am still not sure about one part of the ending, but I liked the book overall.
Perfect in every way. Stunning, inventive language that mirrors improvisational jazz, a vividly drawn, almost magical setting, and characters that worked their way into my psyche and melted my heart.
a 9 year old girl gets to play piano at the Cat's Pajamas!
Just not my kind of book. It was disjointed, there were so many characters it was hard to keep track of them, it was not believable. Felt like a waste of time because, yes, I did read the whole thing.
A fast and engaging read that weaves several narrators together into a charming day-long story. There were many times that I chuckled aloud at Bertino's wit. I zoomed through this one in a day, would recommend just in time for Christmas Eve-Eve!
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I have to say I would really give this book 3 1/2 stars. I didn't just like it, I liked it a lot. 2 a.m. at The Cat's Pajamas was really three stories within a story. The first story of young Madeleine Altimari is the story from which all other stories stem. She is a 9 (almost 10) year old whose mother has recently died from cancer and is looked out for by several neighbors because her father is too wrapped up in the loss of his wife to care for her properly. Madeleine wants to be a jazz singer and practices her singing daily.
The story of Madeleine's fifth-grade teacher Sarina Greene, recently divorced and starting a new life in Philly, is the second intertwining story. And the last story is about Lorca, owner of a failing jazz club, The Cat's Pajamas where Madeleine aspires to sing one day. The book follows the lives of these three characters on Christmas Eve Eve.
The prose was excellent in this book. It was a free flowing and engaging read. I will say while the author did tie in all of the numerous characters in this book well I did find myself having to look back a few times to remember how they fit in as there were so many of them. I am a little sad the jazz references were lost on me as I'm sure they made the book a more enjoyable read. Lastly, I was a little confused with the ending involving one of the secondary characters. I wish someone could explain it to me, but it would result in a spoiler and wasn't necessary for me to understand and enjoy the rest of the book.
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