“Sometimes life carries you in different directions and you don’t even realise you’ve gone down a fork in the road; the great GPS of destiny has not followed the planned route and there has been no sign to indicate you’ve passed the point of no return. Life’s Bermuda Triangle is both myth and reality.”
I have recently discovered that I have a think for contemporary French writers. They are quite peculiar in their plot and "magic" behind the scene.
I previously read The red notebook by Antoine Laurain and really liked it, both for the story and for the writing style so I went and bought his other two novels!
The President's Hat is just charming, a modern fairy tale without being too cheesey, it has that combination on French savoir faire and magic that so enchanted me in Laurain's previous books and, generally, in the French literature.
A man finds a hat left in a restaurant and on an impulse he takes it. But the hat is not just a hat, it is President Mitternad's signature hat.The hat somehow changes the life of this man, or better it is a symbol that permits the man to exploit his inner potential, I'd say. Then for a serie of circumstances the hat passes to various hands with the similar result of changing its new owners lives for the better.
It is also quite a "nostalgic" book, set in the 80s in Paris.
Laurain's writing style is very elegant in my view, the book is quirky but not weird to the point of silliness, the translation is also very good, I did not feel I was reading a book who was originally written in another language as sometimes it happens with translations.
So Laurain confirms himself to me as a "winner" and I am looking forward to read French Rhapsody and then the latest novel coming out in 2017 (The Portrait).
In summary, The President's hat is an exquisite read, which I'd recommend if you like French novelists.
Overall rating: 6.5 Plot: 6.5 Writing style: 7 Cover: 6.5
Title:The President's Hat
Author: Antoine Laurain
Publisher: Belgravia Books
Publication year: 2013
Dining alone in an elegant Parisian brasserie, accountant Daniel Mercier can hardly believe his eyes when President François Mitterrand sits down to eat at the table next to him.
Daniel’s thrill at being in such close proximity to the most powerful man in the land persists even after the presidential party has gone, which is when he discovers that Mitterrand’s black felt hat has been left behind.
After a few moments’ soul-searching, Daniel decides to keep the hat as a souvenir of an extraordinary evening. It’s a perfect fit, and as he leaves the restaurant Daniel begins to feel somehow … different.
Antoine Laurain was born in Paris and is a journalist, antiques collector and the author of five novels. The President’s Hat, a charming fable set in the Mitterrand years, was awarded the Prix Landerneau Découvertes and the Prix Relay in 2012 and is published in English by Gallic. It was a Waterstones Book Club book and ABA Indies Introduce pick in 2013. Antoine was chosen to represent France at European Literature Night 2014.