observations: Hats – we’re always saying at Clothes in Books, they’re very important. You don’t need to know much about Francois Mitterand, former President of France, to enjoy this book, but once you’ve read it you want to find out more. He was of course very much contemporary with Margaret Thatcher, who died this week, and he made that famous comment about her having the eyes of Caligula and the mouth of Marilyn Monroe. (The attributes could easily be reversed if you look at photos of MT.)
After Monday’s The Girl on Paper, this book was a huge relief. Same publishers, another book with great success in France, and two of the same translators. But this one is lovely: a quick fun read, charming and affecting, and leaving you thinking about it afterwards.
The setting is the mid-1980s – very consciously so, no mobiles, no universal computer culture, though an odd and almost out-of-place reference to GPS. An office worker sits next to President Mitterand in a restaurant in Paris and is fascinated by him. When the President leaves, he fails to take his hat: the office worker picks it up, wears it, and finds himself a changed man. At work, he speaks up at a meeting, catches the attention of a senior executive, and his life is permanently altered. Then he accidentally leaves the hat on a train – it’s picked up by Fanny, the woman above, who is in a dead-end love affair and a dead-end life. Again, full of new confidence, she changes everything. And she leaves the hat on a park bench for the next person to find….
Links on the blog: Another hat entry here. The recent Oxford students were from the same era as Fanny, with similar clothes tastes.
The black and white photo is Mitterand in his hat, the young woman is from a fashion magazine of 1985.