True Story of an American and His Heroic Family in "Avenue of Spies", by Alex Kershaw - Book Review

An American doctor and his family live out Hitler’s destruction during WWII in Paris. Writer Alex Kershaw, a journalist and historical author has conducted a deep inquiry into a particular family’s involvement in the French Resistance in under German occupation.  Avenue of Spies is the completely absorbing result. 

American Sumner Jackson is a surgeon at the American Hospital in Paris and provided medical care during the first world war, so he is no stranger to combat wounds and care. His is married to Swiss-born Toquette, and they have a son, Phillip. They live on a very posh street in Paris - Foch Avenue. The street is an important setting, as many of the homes become the headquarters for Hitler’s SS, the Gestapo - spy hunters and gruesome torturers.

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"The President's Hat", by Antoine Laurain - Book Review

The President’s Hat is a prize-winning book and best seller in France about a magical hat and the power it has to transform the lives of those who wear it.  Taking place in the mid 1980’s, the hat belongs (and has the initials embossed to prove it) to then French President François Mitterrand. After dining in a Parisian brasserie, Mitterrand accidentally leaves his hat behind, only to be snapped up by another diner. He decides the black felt hat is now his - a souvenir of the sighting. And as he wears it home, he already feels a sense of strength and power.

The President's Hat
By Antoine Laurain

Author Antoine Laurain goes on to describe the next two years of the hat’s journey. First with our brasserie diner who receives a big promotion at work. He later leaves the hat behind on a train, to be picked up by a fledgling young writer who is involved in a love affair she knows will never end well. With the hat atop her head, she has the courage the break off the relationship and become a full-time writer and book store owner, her dreams coming true. The story continues with two more “keepers” of the hat, both also having life-changing experiences that come with the confidence and self-assurance of wearing the dapper accessory. 

The President’s Hat is whimsical and clever, bringing together a variety of interesting characters. It’s a feel-good, imagined story and a light read. While amusing and enjoyable, there was little depth. I found myself engrossed, but also looking forward to moving on to the next book. The thought of having a magic hat or elixir that helps people fulfill their true potential is a nice one though. I think we’ll have to dig deep and find that within ourselves.

Published: 2013
Publisher: Gallic Books

Vickie’s rating: 3 stars