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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to get ahead, get a hat.
This is an utterly delightful book that uses the device of a hat that keeps getting left behind for another person to pick up as a way of interlinking what are, in effect, a series of short stories. Each one is thoroughly engaging as we see how the wearers are transformed by the donning of the hat. A hat that gives them the confidence to make changes to their lives...
Published 24 months ago by Sue Kichenside

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars I wanted more
Everything begins when Daniel Mercier sits down for dinner on the table next to the French President, Francois Mitterrand. When the president gets up to leave, he leaves behind his hat. Daniel seizes the opportunity and takes the hat with him as he leaves.

When he wears the hat, Daniel seems to feel different somehow. He’s more emboldened, more confident,...
Published 14 days ago by Macey89


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to get ahead, get a hat., 5 Jun. 2013
By 
Sue Kichenside - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The President's Hat (Paperback)
This is an utterly delightful book that uses the device of a hat that keeps getting left behind for another person to pick up as a way of interlinking what are, in effect, a series of short stories. Each one is thoroughly engaging as we see how the wearers are transformed by the donning of the hat. A hat that gives them the confidence to make changes to their lives.

The story - more of a fable, really - is set in the 1980s. This is really rather clever of the author. So much has changed since the advent of technology that, although it is only the recent past, there is almost a feeling of nostalgia captured here. The transformation over the last thirty years is rather similar to the transformative power of the hat!

Antoine Laurain has a light touch and clearly cares for his characters all of whom are handled with empathy. He has also kept this book to just the right length; he doesn't labour the point nor does he try our patience (though, personally, I could have done without the epilogue). But that's just a tiny little niggle in an otherwise thoroughly beguiling read. If you don't enjoy this book, I'll...but you know what I'm going to say here, don't you?
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Leaves you with a spring in your step!, 27 Jun. 2013
This review is from: The President's Hat (Paperback)
It's 1986 and officer worker Daniel Mercier faced with dinner alone decides to treat himself to a slap up meal in a Parisian brasserie. Seated at the banquet bottle of Pouilly-Fumé in hand seafood platter on the way he is shocked when President Francois Mitterand enters and occupies the seat next to him. After dragging his oysters out for as long as he can Mercier watches as Mitterand leaves the restaurant without his hat. Emboldened by the wine Mercier swiftly snatches the hat inadvertently setting off a chain of unexpected life events for the people of Paris.

After reading the jacket of this book, I was surprised to find that it wasn't just about the life of Daniel Mercier, but in fact more a collection of short stories deftly woven together by a felt hat. When Daniel leaves the hat on the train it is discovered by a woman on her way to meet her lover, the hat then meets a perfumer and later a right-wing city gent. We are introduced to each of the characters when they are at a stage in their lives where they need something to boost their morale and for them the hat translates into that strength. Although initially surprised I actually loved this style, with each episode offering a snapshot into the lives of very different people.

This book is really easy to read, but this doesn't detract from the fact that it is immensely enjoyable and leaves you with a spring in your step and a smile on your face.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short and sweet, 21 April 2013
By 
Big Jim "Big Jim" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The President's Hat (Kindle Edition)
Every year around this time I prepare for the annual jaunt to France with a re-read of Clochemerle, probably my favourite book of all time. I am continually searching for a new French book that reaches the perceptive and comic heights of that novel. I may have found a contender. Admittedly much shorter than Chevallier's work, and not as overtly humerous this book does come close and is a very enjoyable read. The other excellent, more in depth reviews above, will tell you all you need to know about the book itself so all I can add is my own recommendation that if you want an enjoyable, humane and interesting read, you buy this book. BTW the translation is excellent but I can't find details of the translator on the Kindle edition
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'This is no ordinary hat.', 13 Jun. 2013
By 
L. H. Healy "Books are life, beauty and truth." (Cambridgeshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The President's Hat (Paperback)
Translated from the French by Gallic Books (Jane Aitken, Emily Boyce, Louise Rogers Lalaurie)

It is November 1986 and accountant Daniel Mercier is dining out alone at a brasserie in Paris whilst his wife and son are away. What was a very pleasant evening becomes even more special as he is stunned to notice that none other than President Francois Mitterand sits down at the table next to him. His evening is transformed as he listens to the conversation at the President's table, and then, when he leaves, Daniel realises that Mitterand has left his hat behind. Pondering for a moment, Daniel takes the hat with him, and after making this split-second decision and putting the hat on his head, his life is never quite the same.

On the back of this new and quite unexpected acquisition, Daniel suddenly develops a newfound confidence at work, sharing his views and finding the courage to stand up for himself: 'With unprecedented confidence, he watched himself negotiate the complex layers of diplomacy with the ease of a dolphin leaping through the waves.' ....'It was as if the real Daniel Mercier had finally stepped out into the light of day.'

Daniel believes that the changes within himself, the decisions he is making and the confidence he now has is due to just one thing: 'The hat. It was the hat that was responsible for the events that had turned Daniel's existence on its head in the last few days. He was convinced of that. Since he had taken to wearing it, the hat had conferred on him a kind of immunity to the torments of everyday life just be being there. Better still, it sharpened his mind and spurred him to take vitally important decisions.' Can a hat really have these magical, transformative qualities? What has made things so different for Daniel since his possession of it? What is it about the hat that affects 'a profound change...a metamorphosis' on the wearer? And what will happen next to the hat?

This is an absolutely delightful, warm-hearted and magical tale about life and fate. I loved reading it! Antoine Laurain has created a very special, mystical and entertaining story here that reveals truths about human nature in a clever way that made me smile and ponder as I read. Love, families, relationships, careers - the hat has a hand in the destiny of so many facets of people's lives in the story.

I don't want to reveal too much about the path that the story takes, except to say that the hat will transform more lives than just Daniel's, and that the story links together well as it develops and then it all comes back together very satisfyingly at the end. We are taken back to the 1980s and there is a some comment on the times then in France which I found interesting, alongside the step back in time to a place when technology was much more basic than that which we have today.

The translation, with three authors taking on the different main characters, worked really well too. It's a really nice edition, with a lovely design and feel to the covers.

All in all, a real treat of a book and a joy to read.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magical book!, 28 Mar. 2013
This review is from: The President's Hat (Paperback)
I bought this book because the cover caught my eye as I was browsing the latest books on offer, and I am very glad that the cover did catch my eye because this is a wonderful book. The way the hat has a positive impact on each new owner is a bit like a version of 'paying it forward'
I enjoyed the way Antoine Laurain took me back to the days before technology had taken over our lives, to the days when people actually wrote letters!
You can lose yourself in the enchanting streets of Paris easily when reading this book, each character is totally believable and I found myself flying through each chapter knowing that I picked up a real treasure at the bookshop.
I had not heard of Monsieur Laurain before I read this book, and having read this splendid book I will now be an avid reader of anything he writes in the future.
The President's Hat is not just a nostalgic feel good read, it is the kind of book which when read should be passed to someone else to enjoy, just like the 'hat' in the story whoever reads the book after a personal recommendation will also be positively impacted, it will draw you in like a magnet if you see it on display in any bookshop, buy it, read it and you will not regret it.......a magical book.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enchanting treat!, 1 April 2013
By 
Ann Fairweather (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The President's Hat (Paperback)
It took me no time at all to fall under the marvellous spell of this book. Laurain manages this fantastic hat trick :) to influx the most mundane of situation with a touch of magic. Hence the beginning of the book, which I think, is probably one of the best opening ever. From then on, you are just gripped non-stop by the adventures of the hat. Lost and found, the President's hat -Mitterrand's- confers to its owner, calm, serenity and confidence. (the famous 'force tranquille'?)and it naturally induces life changing happenings for all the characters. The story flows wonderfully from a character to another, and till the very end, keeps surprising the reader. It definitely is a little masterpiece of literature. Utterly fresh, unpretentious, funny, touching and wise. Of course Mitterrand would have relished such a glowing portrayal, but you do not have to love that president to love the book. The kind of story that feels so real that you find yourself saying: 'If only I could find the president's hat!'...A treat, a gem, a must!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Light and subtle, 28 April 2013
By 
Ripple (uk) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The President's Hat (Paperback)
The milliners advertising used to say "to get ahead, get a hat". They would very much approve of this book. Daniel Mercier is a Mr Average - or perhaps a Monsieur Mediocre. He's a lowly accountant until one evening he finds himself dining next to French President, François Mitterrand, who leaves the restaurant without his hat. When Daniel decides to keep it, his life starts to change and he feels somehow more confident. In other strands of the story, Fanny Marquant is having an affair with an older man who clearly has no intention of leaving his wife while celebrated perfumer Pierre Aslan has lost his ability to detect smells and to create perfumes. Bernard Lavallière, meanwhile is struggling to live up to the right wing standards of his wife's friends and starts to read the more left wing papers. At some point, all will come into contact with the President's hat and it will have an impact on all of them.

Antioine Laurain's short novel, is a delight. It's as light and subtle as a soufflé and is both wryly amusing and entertaining. The first three of the story's threads in particular are excellently worked and when they come together they are both funny and thoughtful. The Lavallièrre thread worked less successfully for me but then that is perhaps because it rather stands alone from the other three.

Behind Laurain's humour though is a subtle look at what Mitterrand brought to France and the reaction of the wealthy to his socialist values. The hat stands for the good intentions that he brought and suggests that as much as anything what he sought was a change in attitudes. But while there is depth to the narrative, first and foremost it is superbly entertaining. It is hard to imagine a British author evoking such fortune from, say Margaret Thatcher's handbag.

For those who like to imagine Paris as full of swanky restaurants, arrogant men, style and illicit affairs, you will not be disappointed, yet it achieves this without appearing too cliché.

The main sadness about the book is that it is just so short. It's the type of book that you can easily read on a decent length train journey. Just make sure you check the luggage rack for left hats before you leave the carriage.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The journey of a lost hat, 2 Jun. 2013
This review is from: The President's Hat (Paperback)
I recently lost a most beloved hat on a train. It was one that had been worn during particularly important parts of my life. It was never handed in to lost property so like Mitterand's hat, it went on a journey of its own. Who is wearing it now?

This in essence is the start of the story in The President's Hat after Mitterand leaves it in a restaurant at the end of a meal. It begins its own journey on the heads of four successive bearers, in the process, totally changing parts of their lives. Sometimes lost, sometimes left as an act of serendipity to be found again, the hat has a power of its own.

It's a wonderful story and beautifully written, joyful, poignant and always interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming book, full of positivity, 6 July 2013
By 
Janie U (Kings Cliffe, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The President's Hat (Paperback)
Immediately, Daniel is a character who is easy to connect to. He is in a restaurant having a rare "bachelor evening" when Francois Mitterrand sits on the table next to him. FM leaves without his hat and Daniel, in an unusual moment of impulse, decides to take it.
I have had bad experiences with translations, as this is, of late but was completely delighted with this book. The description of inner feelings is amazing and I found myself rereading some sections to make sure I had picked up every word.
It is a small book (approx 200 pages) with very short chapters, making for a quick read.
The hat passes from person to person and the book seems to be becoming a series of related short stories. I started to feel a bit disappointed with that idea as I felt I wanted to know more about each of the characters, so was delighted that the book is more complex. There is a bit of mystery, a bit of magic and a lot of Paris, all mixed up with great dollops of positivity.
The story is set in 1986/87 and there are many nostalgic references to the era. The setting is quite subtle and does not take over the plot but is a definite period.
Well worth reading for something a bit different.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I wanted more, 19 May 2015
By 
Macey89 - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The President's Hat (Paperback)
Everything begins when Daniel Mercier sits down for dinner on the table next to the French President, Francois Mitterrand. When the president gets up to leave, he leaves behind his hat. Daniel seizes the opportunity and takes the hat with him as he leaves.

When he wears the hat, Daniel seems to feel different somehow. He’s more emboldened, more confident, more direct and ultimately more successful. It’s as though putting the hat on his head has allowed him to come out of his shell and become the person he should always have been. Astonished by his good luck, Daniel clings to the hat as a symbol of everything he’s achieved. That is, until he leaves the hat on the train and it’s picked up by a new wearer, who might just need a little inspiration of her own.

From here, the hat continues to change hands while Daniel continues his hunt to get it back again. Wearing the hat seems to give each character the motivation they need to make changes in their lives. As readers, we’re left to wonder whether this newfound confidence really comes from the hat, or if the hat is just a catalyst that unlocks what was there all along.

It also raises the question of fate, and how we have the ability to make our destinies and to carve out the path that we want, even if it might seem impossible.

However, each wearer has their own tale to tell and as a result, ‘The President’s Hat’ reads less like a novel and more like a collection of short stories all tied together by a single thread. It’s not until about half way through that they start to link together. Each separate part of the story was enjoyable in itself, but just as I started to get to know one character, they disappeared and the story moved on to a new one.

The book was clever, whimsical and charming in a way. But it was a really short read and I just didn’t feel like there was much to it. Not a huge amount happens and I don’t really have strong feelings about this book either way. Because it was so short, I’m not sure I can really say I enjoyed it. Maybe I should have read the blurb better before starting it, but I was left wanting more of a meaty story to get my teeth into.
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The President's Hat by Antoine Laurain
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