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?