Sundays at Tiffany's

by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

{ 2008 | Little, Brown | 320 pgs }

Here we have a prime example of taking a fascinating idea and ruining it with plot.

The premise of the book is that a little girl has an imaginary friend named Michael (an adult). And it turns out that there’s a whole genre of beings, if you will, who function as imaginary friends; they know each other and hang out and have rules about how long you can be an imaginary friend to a single child. It’s like a full-time job. They can interact with real people but are sort of immortal or at least somewhat un-human.

Sounds interesting, right?

Unfortunately, the main character, Jane, is a “poor little rich girl” who is emotionally neglected by her successful mother. In accordance with imaginary friend rules, Michael has to leave Jane when she turns 9, but he promises that she’ll forget all about him. She doesn’t, and we jump ahead to Jane as a thirtysomething woman struggling to find happiness.

Still not too bad. But then Jane and Michael run into each other and fall in love, Jane’s mother tragically dies but professes her undying love for her precious daughter (unbelievable, since just pages before, the mother was shouting obscenities and telling Jane what a disappointment she is), and {SPOILER ALERT!} Michael becomes human. Want to know how they figure out he’s a “real boy” now? He has a massive heart attack because of all the junk food he’s eaten over the years. Then he gets better, he and Jane get married, and they have babies together.

Seriously.

The writing was terribly disjointed, I presume as a result of having two authors. All the chapters focusing on Jane were narrated in first-person, while the Michael chapters were third-person. The writing was definitely weaker in the Jane chapters, which makes me wonder if the co-author took care of those. As a whole, the novel felt like a tangent story, where each person starts up where the other left off, without any planning for a coherent plot.

My other complaint is that the title is irrelevant to the story. When Jane was young, she and her mother would go first to the St. Regis Plaza for dessert (although Jane sat with Michael at one table and her mom sat with the boyfriend or agent of the moment) and then to Tiffany’s. If the book was meant primarily to show the relationship between Jane and her mother, it failed miserably. If it was intended to be about Jane and Michael, or even just about Jane, the title is unfitting. I almost feel like the authors tried to bring the “Sundays at Tiffany’s” idea back into the plot later on by having Jane buy herself an $18,000 diamond ring (right-hand ring!) after she begins to value herself.

WOW.

I bought this on the Kindle for a book group. I’m really sad that I spent money on it.

P.S. Sundays at Tiffany’s was made into a Lifetime Original Movie last year. I rest my case.