Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Crown (August 5, 2014)
2 A.M. AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS begins on a quiet morning in a Philadelphia apartment the day before Christmas Eve, where we meet the precocious and smart-mouthed nine-year-old Madeleine Altimari. Madeleine’s mother has recently died, and her father is still lost in his grief. Meanwhile, Madeleine finds solace in music and aspires to become a jazz singer. Just two days shy of her tenth birthday, she is about to have the most remarkable day of her life.
After facing down mean-spirited classmates and rejection at school, Madeleine decides today is the day to find Philadelphia’s legendary jazz club, The Cat’s Pajamas, and make her debut. On the same day, Madeleine’s fifth grade teacher Sarina Greene, who has moved back to Philly after a divorce, is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with her high school love. And across town at The Cat’s Pajamas, club owner Jack Lorca discovers that his beloved venue may close be closed due to financial woes by the end of the night. As we follow these three lost souls over the course of twenty-four hours, we also meet a cast of unique and brilliant characters who surround them – from the warm-hearted cafe owner Mrs. Santiago to Melissa, the former “snake lady” exotic dancer who might be Lorca’s last hope for love. With sharp wit and irrepressible spirit, Marie-Helene Bertino turns Philadelphia into a magical place where anything can happen.
A sparkling and completely original novel, 2 A.M. AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS will capture your heart and make you root for Madeleine, Sarina, Lorca, and those whose lives they touch around them.
“Clever, charming and full of life…Like the best jazz, 2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas is a marvel of the unexpected, a buoyant, swinging tale of interwoven destinies that Marie-Helene Bertino tells with verve, wit, and warmth. I loved it.” —Maggie Shipstead, author of Astonish Meand Seating Arrangements
“2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas is as winning and funny as the nine year-old at its heart, and I love it for the way its protagonists turn their back on their city’s cruddiness and their own losses to proclaim their happiness to be in this world. They offer wryness as the antidote to self-pity and benevolence as the antidote to isolation, and they demonstrate how even the most forsaken can turn themselves into a warm, dry house.” —Jim Shepard, author of Like You’d Understand, Anyway
“2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas is a recipe box full of wonders. With a wildly entertaining cast of characters, Marie-Helene Bertino soars through her native city of Philadelphia, zeroing in with great beauty, wit, skill and love on the exact moments in time that change our lives forever.”—Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief
“Once you enter the imagination of Marie-Helene Bertino—a world as weird as it is warm—you will not want to leave. Each sentence is a pop-up box: first delightful for its sweet music, then profound with the shock of truth. This is a dazzling book.”—Eleanor Henderson, author of Ten Thousand Saints
“Marie-Helene Bertino bops across Philadelphia like an alleycat on the run, energetic and wild. Her sentences are sharp and surprising, and her wonderful story is full of heart. There is funny poetry in the sound of loneliness, and Bertino has found it.”—Emma Straub, author of Other People We Married, Laura Lamot’s Life in Pictures and The Vacationers
“2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas won me over heart and soul. With Madeleine Altimari, a nine year old aspiring jazz singer with a wonderful talent for cursing, Bertino has created one of the most winning and wonderful characters I’ve met in a long time. Read this book to see a debut author doing something really special, crafting a story where human kindness meets up with an inhospitable world and real magic happens in the aftermath.”– Kevin Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of The Family Fang
Marie-Helene Bertino is the author of the story collection Safe as Houses, which won the 2012 Iowa Short Fiction Prize and The Pushcart Prize, and was long-listed for The Story Prize and The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize. An Emerging Writer Fellow at New York’s Center for Fiction, she has spent six years as an editor and writing instructor at One Story.
Connect with Marie-Helene Bertino
Marie-Helene Bertino’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, August 4th: Bibliotica
Wednesday, August 6th: Must Read Faster
Thursday, August 7th: My Bookshelf
Friday, August 8th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, August 11th: Reading Reality
Wednesday, August 13th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, August 14th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, August 15th: From L.A. to LA
Monday, August 18th: Caribousmom
Tuesday, August 19th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, August 20th: Broken Teepee
Thursday, August 21st: Guiltless Reading
Monday, August 25th: A Bookish Way of Life
Monday, August 25th: Walking With Nora
Wednesday, August 27th: Kritter’s Ramblings
Thursday, August 28th: BookNAround
Friday, August 29th: Too Fond
Thursday, September 4th: Unabridged Chick