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Sundays at Tiffany's, by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet (Read by Ellen Archer)

Imaginary friends are quite common among eight-year-olds, but the same can't be said for adults. Jane had the perfect imaginary friend, Michael, until her ninth birthday, but then Michael told her that he had to go away forever. He was funny, he was handsome, he made Jane feel loved and accepted. As the chubby, clumsy child of the beautiful, successful dragon-lady Broadway producer, Vivian Margaux, Jane felt neither loved nor accepted by her mother. Fast forward 23 years to Michael running down a New York City street to get to a hospital where he's sure Jane is dying. Although she's produced a Tony-winning play and is practically engaged to the gorgeous leading man, Jane is miserably unhappy. At her lowest moment, Michael reappears, but is he there to help her find happiness or to help her die?

Patterson and Charbonnet's charming story can be enjoyed on several levels. The unexpected conclusion will assure Patterson's mystery fans that he hasn't given up the genre for romance, but listeners may be surprised at how tender and sensitive a love story he can also write. Even the most loving mother-daughter relationship has rocky moments, but the one between Vivian and Jane is so contentious that the story takes on fairytale-like characteristics, complete with the innocent maiden and the wicked witch. For good measure, Patterson also throws in Prince Charming and the big, bad wolf. Set in the glamorous world of designer dresses, Broadway glitz, fashionable restaurants, Sundays at Tiffany's and vacations on Martha's Vineyard, this audio book is a travelogue of privileged pleasures.

The narrator, Ellen Archer, conjures up both the vulnerability of Jane and the imperiousness of Vivian in her reading of the chief female roles. She is also able to vilify and deify the appropriate males respectively. Sundays at Tiffany's is a delightful departure from the grim realism of thriller, suspense and mystery fiction. It asks the listener to suspend belief enough to accept Michael as an imaginary, but real friend, and it's entirely possible that in those moments of suspended belief, current concerns magically, if temporarily, recede. Without being hokey, this unique story celebrates the power of love and is recommended to anyone who isn't afraid to feel it.

Ruth Mormon

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