This hilarious book makes for a perfect holiday read, it’s smart, insightful, light and very entertaining. A hat of the French President François Mitterrand is stolen, it travels around France, changing heads and the lives of people who own it. It has a magical gift of empowering people and bringing good luck. A pathetic accountant is promoted to become the branch director, an amateur writer breaks free from her married lover and wins a literary contest, an aging aristocrat finds a new passion in art collecting, and a depressed perfumer invents a masterpiece of fragrances.
You need to know at least a little bit about French lifestyle and habits to enjoy the author’s irony. It’s all in the details – French obsession with culinary and food presentation, duality of hating and respecting social hierarchies… The hat is also very symbolic, it represents higher status, an attempt to look different, something you wear to go out and stand for yourself. Last but not least – the story is a great snapshot of the 1980th : how Canal + and answering machines are a novelty and some parents are still debating the sin of television and La Grande Arche de la Défense is still under construction.
In French – Le chapeau de Mitterrand
In English – The President’s Hat