All nine year old Madeleine Altimari wants to do is sing. She’s been practicing, perfecting her craft, waiting for her moment. On Christmas Eve Eve, it seems like she’ll get her chance to perform at school but once again her dreams are thwarted. Her day just gets worse, until she hears about The Cat’s Pajamas, the second best jazz club in Philadelphia. Somehow she’ll find her way there and make her debut. Lorca, the owner of The Cat’s Pajamas, is not having a good day himself. The club is in trouble. If he can’t come up with $30,000, the club will close.
As Madeleine schemes a way to get to The Cat’s Pajamas and Lorca considers ways of finding a pile of cash, Madeleine’s teacher Sarina plans to meet a group of old friends for dinner. Sarina is back in Philly after a divorce. Among the dinner guests is her high school crush.
All these characters will find themselves part of the events that happen that night at 2 am at The Cat’s Pajamas.
2 am at The Cat’s Pajamas is more storytelling than plot or character. The narrator is third person omniscient and floats along through the story touching upon lesser characters that appear for a few moments before catching up with the main protagonists.
Most of the events revolve around the three main characters: Madeleine, Sarina, and Lorca. As they go about their day, they look back upon major events in their lives. For Madeleine, her life took a terrible turn when her mother died and her father tapped out of his. She is not completely alone though. She has Mrs Santiago, the storekeeper, who makes sure she’s feed and taken care of.
Sarina keeps thinking of her old crush Ben and her awful prom experience. She thought she was beyond all the teenage drama. She was married to a successful handsome man, until they divorced. Now she’s back in Philly, about to see her old friends, and wondering what Ben is going to think of her.
Lorca inherited The Cat’s Pajamas from his father and now he’s about to lose it. His girlfriend just left him and his son is angry with him. His old friends, the house band, depend on him for everything. There’s only one way to save the club but he’s reluctant to do it.
Structurally the novel is unique and interesting, but since this was an audiobook I really had to keep on my toes and pay attention. It was easy to get lost. I’m pretty sure I missed some things. 2 am at The Cat’s Pajamas is an entertaining, and sometimes sad story, but there were some magical realism elements thrown in that, to be honest, didn’t add anything. The last few minutes of the book was kind of out there.
I thought it was great right up until that moment. I looked at my player and saw a couple of minutes left and thought, “I guess that’s…it?” I’d still rate 2 am at The Cat’s Pajamas high. I’d love to know what happens to these characters after Christmas Eve Eve.
About the Audio: Angela Goethals does the narration and has good projection. She gives the men at the club interesting accents. Something I appreciated was how she didn’t try to sing the musical parts. Many narrators sing and they are not good at it.
Thanks to Random House Audio for the audio file for review consideration. All opinions are my own.