“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 the lowly clerk who snaffles it. When he leaves it on the train, it inspires its next owner to break off a dead-end affair. Inspires a grand parfumier back to his trade, and a man to speak his mind.
It actually reminded me of Roald Dahl’s short story collection, Kiss Kiss. Something about the inevitable tragedy and/or weirdness from every encounter. Each of the characters is amusingly drawn – the over-ambitious Daniel, frivolous and fickle Mme. Marchant, Pierre Aslan the giant of perfumerie whose muse has eluded him for so long. So I actually found it quite dissatisfying to spend so little time in their company. This could easily have been twice as long and I would have enjoyed it more (although maybe I’m just not patient enough for short stories?).
I think I’m not sufficiently French to enjoy this. Or I don’t have enough experience with French history, culture and literature to enjoy it. So I’m going to give it to the Book Accumulator and see what he thinks.
Additional information:Copy sent by the publisher in exchange for an honest review Publisher: Gallic Books, 200 paperback pages Order The President’s Hatfrom Amazon* * this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards give-aways and site hosting