Tag Archives: Antoine Laurain

‘French Rhapsody’ by Antoine Laurain

french-rhapsodystarstarAfter thoroughly enjoying The President’s Hat and The Red Notebook by this author, I was so looking forward to his next one, but unfortunately it is completely different and quite disappointing.

The premise is great: Alain Massoulier receives a letter that was lost in the postal system for decades. It contains an offer from a recording company–thirty-three years too late. The letter is a catalyst for him to get in touch with The Holograms, his former band members, but this results in a boring description of a number of different characters, almost like separate vignettes, and the thread of the story gets lost. This third book was not nearly as enjoyable and entertaining as the other two.

‘The Red Notebook’ by Antoine Laurain

The Red Notebookstarstarstarstar“He was about to commit a forbidden act. A transgression. For a man should never go through a woman’s handbag.”

Owner of “Le Cahier Rouge” bookstore, Laurent Letellier comes across an abandoned handbag on a street in Paris. He feels compelled to take it home to see if he can somehow return it to its owner. Of course the wallet is missing and the bag contains no phone or contact information, it was probably ditched by the thief who stole it.

Laurent is forced to make deductions from the things he finds in the handbag, including a small red notebook with handwritten thoughts and jottings that he reads for clues. This reveals a person that Laurent would very much like to meet, but without even a name to go on, how is he going to find one woman in a city of millions?

As original and charming as The President’s Hat, Antoine Laurain is an excellent storyteller. This is a short book, I finished it in two evenings. But it is rich with Parisian flavour and full of delicious literary whimsy. A very well written and satisfying little gem.

‘The President’s Hat’ by Antoine Laurain

The President's HatstarstarstarstarThis is an original, optimistic, and inventive story about a hat. But not just any hat. President François Mitterrand leaves his black felt hat in a Paris brasserie. His initials F.M. are embroidered into the lining. Daniel Mercier finds the hat after the President leaves the restaurant and decides to take it. He puts it on his head and extraordinary things begin to happen! A highly enjoyable, multi-layered and clever little read!

The setting of the book is the 80’s, which feels rather recent, but when we think about how far technology has come since then, we realise how the story would have played out very differently today, when we have a dizzying array of technological devices at our fingertips. There wasn’t even any internet then and sometimes we feel nostalgic for such a simpler time. So when Daniel is randomly seated next to the charismatic President in the restaurant, there would have been nothing more for him than a special memory and an interesting story to tell. Nowadays, pictures would immediately have been beamed around the planet with the aid of his smart phone. Has the charm of a moment in the 80’s scenario been lost to the capability of the present day?

A brilliant illustration of this question is seen in this photo, comparing the introduction of the new Pope in St. Peter’s Square in 2005 and 2013. Those are not candles burning… 🙂

New Pope in St. Peter's Square