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The President's Hat

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  5,826 ratings  ·  832 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 2012)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  5,826 ratings  ·  832 reviews

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Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-lit-wd
Daniel Mercier buys himself a meal in a smart Parisian Brasserie. He’s having a hard time at work and missing his wife and son, who are away for a few days. Fresh seafood and a chilled bottle of expensive white wine seems a fitting treat to lift his spirits.
Three distinguished gentlemen sit down at the next table, one of them, to Daniel’s amazement, turns out to be Francois Mitterrand the French president!
Daniel is excited to spend time in such rarified company and is further surprised when the
Nat K
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it

”Sometimes life carries you in different directions and you don't even realise you've gone down a fork in the road...”

J'adore! J'adore!! J'adore!!! Oh my goodness, what is it about Antoine Laurain's writing that just gets to me "so".

I have to admit to shedding a little tear at the end, as it was just tied together so beautifully, and there is this amazing melting moment in Venice. But you'll have to read it to find out what this is...

”Could a felt hat have the power to change lives?”

So asks the
Nov 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
May 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Another success from Antoine Laurain. Fable-like it follows the subsequent wearers of The French President during the 1980's Francois Mitterand after he leaves it in a Parisian brasserie.

The hat continues to be left and each person who becomes its temporary caretaker experiences something new and transfromative in their lives.

Impossible to put down, uplifting and a joy to read, it is wonderful to come across one of those 'turn-to' authors when in need of a literary pick-me-up or just a fun read!
Apr 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: passed-on
“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
"The President's Hat" is another charming novel by the French writer Antoine Laurain.

I loved his "Red Notebook", so when I spotted this on Netgalley, I had to request it. Many thanks to the publishers, Gallic Books, for allowing me to read it.

The President's Hat is about the French President, Francois Mitterand's hat. I've grown up hearing about him. He was the French president for a very long time (14 years!).

The story takes place in 1986. Daniel Mercier finds himself in a brasserie, enjoying
"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." ...more
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Could a hat absorb the qualities of the person who's head it's been sitting on?
In this delightfully quirky story, the lost hat of the President of France seems to change the lives of those who wear it, making them bolder and more confident, and therefore allowing them to make the choices that could change their lives for the better.
It all begins when Danielle finds himself dining in close proximity to the leader of his country, who leaves behind his hat. The temptation is too great for Danielle
Emma Iadanza
Jun 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone!
Shelves: favorite-fiction
I was going to rate this 4 stars, but the ending was just so satisfying that I had to give it 5!
Truly! I have never experienced such a satisfying ending. Indeed, it was an experience, not just a novel.

I believe I found this book on a list of short reads, and just was so captivated by the premise that I had to find it. I got it for Christmas last month - and I had to read it! It was so appealing, because I have experienced the horribleness of loosing hats many times. (view spoiler)
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: france, italy
Set in the 1980s in Paris, President Francois Mitterrand leaves his hat behind in a brasserie. Daniel Mercier, another restaurant patron, decides to take the president’s black felt hat. The hat imbues confidence causing those who possess it to each take action to change his or life starting with Mercier to aspiring writer Fanny Marquant, perfumer Pierre Aslan, and Bernard Lavallière experiencing a mid-life crisis. A darling and optimistic story recalling a less technological time and French impu ...more
One for lovers of whimsy...

Daniel Mercier is eating alone one night in a restaurant when François Mitterrand, President of France, and some friends settle themselves at the next table. Daniel is thrilled to be so close to the great man, and begins to imagine that he's part of the President's group. When they leave the restaurant, Daniel notices that Mitterrand has accidentally left his signature black hat behind. Succumbing to an overwhelming temptation, Daniel picks it up, crams it on his own h
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book based on a review by Richard, posted here on Goodreads not that long ago. It is an absolutely delightful read and I don't think I can add anything to Richard's excellent review. A short novel full of wonderful insights into the frailty of human character, this is a little gem. ...more
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 0-dl, 2016, contemporary, w-brk
This was really a series of short stores, cleverly cobbled together by the president’s miraculous hat. It started out very interestingly, and got better as it went along and the stories all came together.
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-reads
A short novel about the adventures of a unique hat may not sound like much, but it was thoroughly enjoyable. I am loving Antoine Laurain's magical short stories! ...more
Nancy McKibben
Jan 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
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. B
Danielle Bauter
Nov 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
What a charming book from start to finish! This cleverly paced novel from a French author is the story of a hat's journey from its original owner (former French president Francois Mitterand) to a number of individuals who also take a turn with it. The magic of the story is the unraveling of how the hat transforms the lives of each of them in different ways. And how everything comes full circle in the end. A thoroughly satisfying read, I savored every page and was sad to have it end. ...more
Maine Colonial
This is a light, short novel, but that doesn’t mean it’s trivial. Laurain introduces us to four characters whose lives are transformed, seemingly by the influence of the hat of the title. The story is charming, quirky and heart-warming.

The multi-cast audiobook is performed well.
Mike Smith
“Governments come and go. Life is the only movement that keeps going."

This book is easily a 5 star read. I have never read anything quite like it, the story is surreal and completely different to my normal reading style. Antoine Laurain has written a beautiful story that is captivating, filled with humour, anticipation and general feel-good feeling.

Based in 1980's France, the President of the Republic, Francois Mitterand is dining in a brasserie when he accidently leaves his signature black fe
Penny McGill
Oct 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Deyanne by: Fran
I find it quite delightful to pick up a book and finish it in a quick evening. This is my second book by Antoine Laurain and I find it is like savoring a rich dessert that you know at the start will leave you satisfied. The story line is a simple is the story of the good fortune brought to the people who happen to fortunately find and wear a "lost hat". Laurain's books so far have been optimistic and upbeat. Many of the lives involving the four different stories in this little novel are ...more
May 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Just a few favorite quotes:
"Now she understood Michel Polac's approach: push it as far as it will go until the whole thing explodes, then sit back and survey the damage. Fanny shivered with fear and excitement. She took a step back, perched on the table and tilted her head to one side, all the while keeping her eyes on Edouard. She was about to leap into the unknown and it was a delicious feeling, more satisfying than any sexual position.
'Yes, the hat was a present,' she said softly."

"What Aslan
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: europe
I really enjoyed this. The style with small chapters made this a joy to read and the flow that interconnected the simple sub plots worked wonderfully. The main thing that grabbed me was the great feeling of positivity that emanated from the story. A triumph, and I have ordered the author's other novels as a result. ...more
May 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Almost like a modern fairy tale. A pleasant and uncomplicated read.
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
A cosy read. I liked it but didn't love it and sometimes books are just like that. ...more
Aug 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is really a delightful little book with a creative story. I highly recommend it to anyone who is feeling overwhelmed or sad or needs a break from heavy and/or dark literature.
Dianne Trautmann
Set in 1980's Paris, this was a fun read. The hat passes from person to person, and like a magic talisman it changes lives in the process. ...more
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This story reminds me of Johnny Fedora and Alice Blue Bonnet, a short animated film in Disney's Make Mine Music (1954) only because it follows the adventures of a forgotten hat--not because two hats fall in love and fight to find each other again. It follows François Mitterand's hat as it is left behind in a restaurant and picked up by the fellow in the next table. The hat seems to endow the wearer with a confidence that helps bring about a substantial change in their personal circumstance. The ...more
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another excellent book from Antoine Laurain. Best new author I have found this year! Loved the storyline, French history and politics.
Andrea InCoorparoo
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a lovely book and I enjoyed every word. I won't write any more review, as I think it is better not to know about the book before you start. There is joy in being surprised. ...more

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
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Beautiful novel, ingenious author 3 12 Nov 26, 2015 03:48PM  

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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 E ...more

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