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The President's Hat

The President's Hat

4.5 2
by Antoine Laurain

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This prize-winning French bestseller is a charming fable about the power of a hat that takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride through French life during the Mitterrand years.

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


This prize-winning French bestseller is a charming fable about the power of a hat that takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride through French life during the Mitterrand years.

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.

After the presidential party has gone, Daniel 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.

Has Daniel unwittingly discovered the secret of supreme power?

For two years the iconic item of headgear plays with the lives of the men and women who wear it, bringing them success that had previously eluded them. Antoine Laurain's brilliantly orchestrated tour captures entertaining portraits of a rich gallery of characters.

Shot through with a delicious, wicked sense of humor, The President's Hat is a vivid re-creation of the everyday life of an era.

"As entertaining as it is original, this is a story to enjoy like a chocolate with a surprise centre."—Marie France

"An enjoyable trip into the heart of the 1980s."—Le Figaro

"Impossible to resist"—L'Express

Antoine Laurain was born in Paris. He is a writer, collector, and director of several short films.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Winner of the Prix Landerneau Découvertes and Prix Relay des Voyageurs, this delightful "1980s fairy tale for adults" is the story of how a black felt hat belonging to French president François Mitterand transforms the lives of those who possess it. One November evening in 1986, Parisian accountant Daniel Mercier is enjoying a solitary plateau royal de fruits de mer when the head of state and his dinner companions are seated next to him. The awed Daniel prolongs his own meal until the presidential party departs two hours and seven minutes later. "Never again, he told himself, would he be able to eat oysters with vinegar without hearing those words: 'As I was saying to Helmut Kohl last week.' " Upon discovering that Mitterand forgot his hat, Daniel takes the chapeau as a souvenir and finds a new confidence when he wears it: "In a strange way, he felt that something of the President was there in the hat. Something intangible…. But whatever it was, it had the power of destiny." Daniel is promoted and transfers with his family to a new city, but the hat, left behind on the train, begins its journey from owner to owner, working its strange magic. VERDICT Laurain's gentle, satirical humor remind this reviewer of Jacques Tati's classic films, and, no, you don't have to know French politics to enjoy this charming novel. Fans of Muriel Barbery's The Elegance of the Hedgehog will want this. [Ten-city tour as part of ABA's "Indies Introduce Debut Authors" promotion; previewed in "A World of New Titles," LJ 7/13.—Ed.]—Wilda Williams, Library Journal

Product Details

Gallic Books Limited
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Antoine Laurain was born in Paris in the early 1970s. He is a writer, collector and director of several short films.

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The President's Hat 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
wordsandpeace More than 1 year ago
This short and funny novel full of cultural references to the 1980s actually offers an interesting reflection on destiny. Delightfully French! Things are not doing too well at Daniel’s workplace in Paris. He decides to clear his mind one day and go by himself to the restaurant, as his wife and son are away. Francois Mitterrand happens to come to the same place to eat, with Roland Dumas and others, and sits nearby. When the then French president leaves, he forgets his hat (The French title is Francois Miterrand’s hat). Acting on impulse, Daniel picks it up. Right away, he starts having “unprecedented confidence”, which soon reflects in a sudden very positive shift in his work status, astonishing everyone. Now “a man of quiet strength” (translation of Mitterrand’s political slogan in the campaign that led to his election in 1980, “la force tranquille”), he no longer feels overwhelmed with anxiety. He gets promoted as a regional director to Rouen. But when he and his family leave for Rouen, Daniel forgets the hat in the train! Then the book focuses on three other characters, as they find and lose the hat bearing the initials FM, and how it changed their lives, bringing them power (more than psychoanalysis in one case), and the courage to start a new life, no longer conforming to the expectations of others. The book is full of political and cultural French references, famous personalities, and events. Author Antoine Laurain shared that the idea of the book may have originated in the loss of his own hat. He also had fun introducing many elements pertaining to his childhood and teenage years, the 1980s. The book is quirky, typically French in that sense. Like a modern fairy tale, it is fun and an easy read, though offering as well a reflection on destiny. All the French cultural references added extra enjoyment for me, and the last twist makes the story form a great circle. I can’t wait now to read another book by Laurain, French Rhapsody, received at BEA.
Helen_Ginger More than 1 year ago
ThePresident's Hat is a book by Antoine Laurain. The book starts in a Parisian brasserie. An accountant, Daniel Mercier, is astonished  to see President Francois Mitterrand sit down to eat at the table next to him. He's even more surprised when Mitterrand leaves,  forgetting to take his black felt hat. From the moment Mercier picks up the hat and puts it on his head, he changes. In fact, his life changes. He sets out with the idea that he  will return the hat, but the hat makes such a difference in his life that he can't give it up. He becomes more sure of himself. He moves up  in the status of life. The lives of those around him change. Mercier is not the only one affected by the President's hat. When he loses it, someone else picks it up. And their life changes. The President's Hat was interesting. I enjoyed watching (or reading) the changes that occur because of a hat. It’s not that the hat is  magical. It's more about what the hat symbolizes to each individual who puts it on and then sees themselves differently. Just under 200 pages, The President's Hat is not a long book. It kept me reading, though. I enjoyed seeing the changes these people  underwent, all because of how the hat made them feel and how others saw them. I give The President's Hat a rating of Hel-of-an-Idea. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ FTC Disclaimer: The President's Hat was sent to me by Antoine Laurain's publicist. This did not affect my review. I thought it was a new  twist on character growth. Mercier and the others who wore the hat may have become more confident on their own even if they'd never  found the hat. But probably not. Was it actually magical? Read the book and decide for yourself. I'm going to keep my eyes open for  lost hats.