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The President's Hat

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  1,084 ratings  ·  215 reviews
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 ha
Paperback, 208 pages
Published September 3rd 2013 by Gallic Books (first published January 11th 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,098)
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Loved it. A sweet little story, well-realised characters... gave me a real feeling of that magic I used to get reading stories as a kid, except instead of dragons, monsters and knights, it was all about the oysters, perfumes and Parisian parks I know all too well.

It's a quick read - anyone looking for a wonderful way to waste your afternoon, this one's a treat.
“If you want to get ahead get a hat”

It’s a play on words, used as an advertising slogan in the UK in the 1940s. It would seem that those words struck a chord, as they remain in the public consciousness to this day. Maybe that’s because they’re true.

They certainly were in Paris, in 1986.

Daniel Mercier was an accountant, with a career that was solid but not spectacular.

One evening, when his wife and child were away, he decided that he would treat himself to a lovely meal and a good bottle of wine

4 Stars

A fun little novel, I tossed up for a good ten minutes or so whether to give it 3.5 or 4 stars and eventually decided to round it up (think of it as a 3.75 if you like). This was a bit of an impulse buy – I went into Waterstones to pick up another book, had a quick browse through their special offer’s tables, marked this down as something that looked interesting, and left, walked halfway down the street, turned round, and went straight back into the shop. My wallet’s not particularly happ
Nancy McKibben
Jan 06, 2014 Nancy McKibben rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Francophiles; flaneurs
The President’s Hat
By Antoine Laurain

A French novel in translation, The President’s Hat is a sweet bit of whimsy. Daniel Mercier, an everyday sort of accountant, inadvertently finds himself seated next to President Francois Mitterand at a brasserie; when Mitterand forgets his hat, Mercier appropriates it as a souvenir of the evening he sat next to the President. But when he dons the black hat, he feels transformed.
He felt as if his brain was bathed in a refreshing dose of sparkling aspirin. Bub
The novel is set in 1986 and the hat does not remain long in Daniel's possession but moves through a number of temporary owners, changing the life of each in a subtle way. Daniel is still very attached to the hat and does seek to re-unite with it.

While I listened to the majority of this on audio, I elected to splash out for the Kindle edition as well. This was partly because I was enjoying it very much but also I found that the subtly of the plot meant that I felt I'd not appreciated it fully v
Laura Clarke
The book tells the tale of President Francois Mitterand's black felt hat, picked up in a restaurant by the Parisian accountant Daniel Mercier. From there, the hat passes through the hands of three other individuals, changing the lives of each person in an empowering and peculiar way. Inspired by his courage to steal the President's hat, Daniel Mercier stands up to his boss and receives a longed-for promotion. Fanny Marquant, coming into possession of the hat when it is left on a train by Daniel ...more
This book is set in 1980’s France and mainly in Paris. It dips it’s toes into the French politics of the time (but only a little), when accountant Daniel finds himself eating in the same Parisian brasserie as Francois Mitterrand. Daniel’s excitement about his proximity to the celebrity diner is nothing to when he discovers the President has left his hat behind. In an instant he makes the decision to take the hat, an action that will change many things for many people.

I love a book where the stor
Penny McGill
This was a fast read but not because it was a short book. It was a fast book because the pace of the story and the premise - Mitterand's hat is left behind in a restaurant and the man who finds it experiences a boost in his life while he wears it, then HE loses the hat and the next person experiences a life altering upswing - so you keep reading because you want to know what is going to happen next. That is the part of reading that I love the most, the what-happens-next part, and with Antoine La ...more
Zoe Brooks
I bought this little gem on impulse. It was one of those reduced price kindle offers and I thought I hadn't reviewed many French books on this blog (a couple I think), so I took a punt.

The hat at the heart of the story passes from owner to new owner by a series of coincidences and each time the new owner changes his or her life, becoming more decisive and taking control of circumstances. Is this because of the hat? Daniel Mercier thinks so: his search for the hat he lost shortly after acquiring
I wish there were more books like this. Entirely fanciful but could be true about the life changing effects of President Mitterand's hat as it falls into the hands of a succession of slightly unhappy people. It sounds quaint to say a book is charming but this book is. Translated from the original French it focuses on many aspects of French cultural life which do not fall into my daily aegis. It's a short book but I raced through it because I loved it so much. Thank you Felicity for recommending ...more
When David Mercier, a mid-level accountant whose Parisian life has seemingly plateaued, decides to make the most of his wife and son’s trip to Brittany by treating himself to a bachelor, brasserie dinner of oysters, the only alterations he anticipates are those to his bank balance and his belt. But just as he has finished scouring the menu and handing in his order, in strolls le Président de la République François Mitterrand who takes his seat just beside Monsieur Mercier, leaving his aghast. Af ...more
Girl with her Head in a Book
I feel slightly guilty to have read this in the translation - I can read French but a mixture of general literary laziness and being given a free copy in English meant that I did not bother sourcing the original version. I got through it in a day (albeit a day that involved a decentish train journey) ... it was not a heavy read but I did enjoy it. François Mitterrand is the President of the title, the only other Socialist French President other than the one currently in office. This is all a lit ...more
Patricia Herlevi
I have an unnatural fascination with anything French. Since I lack French language skills, I wait until the English translations of French novels arrive on American shores.

Antoine Laurain's "The President's Hat" delights with its detached French charm. It's très French and one of those tales told in fragments that when pieced together leave us scratching our heads. Think Eric Rohmer's movies.

The story revolves around President Francois Mitterand's hat which switches owners through the course of
Le chapeau de Mitterrand Daniel Mercier dîne seul dans une fameuse brasserie parisienne quand - il n'en croit pas ses yeux - un illustre convive s'installe à la table voisine : François Mitterrand. Son repas achevé, le Président oublie son chapeau, que Daniel décide de s'approprier en souvenir. Tel un talisman, le feutre noir ne tarde pas à transformer sa vie. Daniel aurait-il percé le mystère du pouvoir suprême ? Hélas, il perd à son tour le précieux couvre-chef qui poursuit de tête en tête sa ...more
Hilary G
I'm not going to tell you a thing about this book, and I hope you haven't read the blurb or any of the other reviews, because I think a large part of the charm of this fable is knowing absolutely nothing about it when you turn to the first page. I wouldn't say it was a great book, but mercifully, it is quite far from the modern authors I studied when I did my French degree, who all took themselves far too seriously. This is light and it is fun. It couldn't be anything but French, I think. There ...more
Elisha Condie
This was delightful. A Jean-Pierre Jeunet movie just asking to be made.

One night, a regular guy treats himself to a nice dinner in a Parisian restaurant. And Francois Mitterand sits down next to him. He is in awe to be sitting next to the French President and knows he'll always remember this night. And then. . . the President forgets his hat. And our regular man takes it. And everything changes.

The hat gives confidence and ideas to regular guy #1, who misplaces it when someone else finds it
Erin Robyn Walker
I love this book. It is now one of my all time favorites. I wish I had bought it instead of borrowing it from the library because it is definitely one to add to your own personal library. The characters all positively benefit from the confidence given them when in possession of the president's hat. Is it the magic held within the hat or does it simply help each one to feel confident enough to look inside themselves? Given them a different perspective on their identity each character becomes a mo ...more

Picked this up at the MLA for free, and read it quickly, loving his ability to use letters and losses to knit a story of a one object through space - and gave me a feeling for ultra-bougeois Paris now I never would have gotten any other way, that was delicious...and edged with political satire and nostalgia, with glimpses into several worlds that frankly would never admit me in person (or without high anxiety on my part), such as high-end art dealing, elegant French restaurants, haute fashion...
Almost like a modern fairy tale. A pleasant and uncomplicated read.
Laeticia Barbier
J'ai vraiment apprécier cette belle lecture! Vraiment tip top j'ai adoré! C'est fluide, léger, beau, et rigolo que toutes ces péripéties que va vivre ce fameux chapeau. Et puis, les descriptions odorantes de Aslan en quête de son talent enfoui m'ont vraiment parlé, je m'y voyais à ses côtés, à frôler les gens, et à jouer à ce jeu de nez. J'ai aimé qu'il y ait un fil rouge dans ce roman, en dehors du chapeau lui-même, la quête de Daniel, et puis et n'en dévoile pas plus! A lire pour un ...more
Nancy Jurss
An amusing little French book on what happens to various people who come into possession of a hat that belongs to Francois Mitterand. The original owner steals it when Mr. Mitterand leaves it behind in a brasserie. The subsequent owners come upon it by chance, but it seems to have a magical effect on all of them causing them to make a bold move that changes their lives. The details are wonderful and done in a way that you can understand what is happening even if you are not French. A quick, whim ...more
Kristina Chalmain
In 1986, President Mitterand forgets his hat at a bistro, and it goes on a journey that affect the lives of the people who picks it up and wears it. The book has a fluffy charm, but I was not surprised to read that the author is a scriptwriter - it reads more like a light, inconsequential episodical film: visual, charming but superficial. There is a touch of social critique, and I also snickered at the description of the psychoanalyst. Of the characters that wears the hat I like the perfumer bes ...more
Janet Emson
3.5 of 5 stars

Daniel Mercier finds himself alone in Paris whilst his wife and son are away. On the spur of the moment he decides to visit a brasserie. Whilst eating President Mitterrand sits down at the table next to him. As Mitterrand leaves the restaurant, he leaves behind his black Homburg hat. On the spur of the moment Daniel keeps the hat for himself. As he begins to wear the hat he notices a change come over him. Could it be the hat?

This is a short novel, only 208 pages and is a charming c
Lindsay (Little Reader Library)
'This is no ordinary hat.'

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 t
Yvann S
"Desmoine took it upon himself to pour Daniel another cup of coffee. 'Important to drink coffee,' he added. 'Balzac drank litres of the stuff. You've read Balzac, of course.' 'Of course,' Daniel confirmed, never having read Balzac in his life."

This is such a French book. It’s an isle flottante of a novella, vignettes floating on absurd custard of a felt hat. It is essentially the story of that felt hat: left behind by President Mitterand one day in a restaurant, it bestows great blessings upon t
Shaz Goodwin
We begin our journey with Daniel Mercier meeting his wife Veronique and son Jerome at Gare Saint-Lazare. Our first introduction to the hat is his wife’s astonished look and gesture that shows whatever is on Daniel’s head is not his usual attire.

The hat confers an energy for him that gives him powers to make changes in his life. He loses the hat … The next character to find the hat also makes important changes to her life but she doesn’t lose the hat, she chooses to leave it behind. There are a c
A charming and deliciously French story about an inspirational, yet troublesome, hat. Daniel Mercier decides to treat himself to an extravagant dinner in a restaurant that sits somewhat outside of his earning status, he is totally awestruck when President Francois Mitterrand dines beside him with some political heavy weights. On the President's departure he accidentally leaves behind his hat and Daniel's decision to take it launches the reader into the depths of Paris as the hat drives a revolut ...more
Puuuurty good novel. I found myself in the almighty enormous dymocks bookstore in Melbourne on the weekend with my lovely girlfriend where as to our complete surprise and disgust all bukowski books are hidden behind the counter due to the amount of thefts if his work. I think he's up there smiling somewhere that young assholes like himself are thieving his work. I found the irony quite hilarious to be honest. Anyway as I browsed through literary fiction past the palahniuks and the Kerouac I foun ...more
Sam Sattler
Antoine Laurain’s novel, The President’s Hat (translated by Gallic Books) was originally published in France in 2012 as Le Chapeau de Mitterrand. The premise of this whimsical little novel is that the French president’s (the novel is set in the 1980s) hat has some special powers of its own that will change, for the better, the life of anyone who owns it – no matter how briefly their period of ownership turns out to be.

And, luckily for a handful of Parisians, Mitterrand is forgetful enough about
I read the President's hat for my book club and found it an enjoyable, quick read.

The entirety of the plot is divided between the perspectives of four different people who live in France. The book reads much like a collection of short stories with the overall plot being connected from story to story.

Each person in the series varies from the last and they come from all different walks of life. But what ties the groups together is their lack of self confidence. Every individual suffers from a stum
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