The story: Aged just twelve, Antoine acts out of in a fit of anger, with horrific consequences. From that day, he lives his life in the constant shadow of shame and doubt, driven by an overwhelming desire to escape from the consequences of his actions. As an adult, he’s determined to get away from the small town where he grew up and make a different life for himself. But when unforeseen circumstances draw him back home and into the orbit of old friends and acquaintances, events transpire to bring old truths to the surface, no matter how hard Antoine tries to keep them buried forever.
My thoughts: Pierre Lemaitre is a French crime writer that I’ve been following for a while, and I think I’ve read all of the books he’s written that have been translated into English. His previous novels have been much more intense and focus on a series of grisly murders and psychological abuse. In contrast, Three Days and a Life was a bit of a departure from what I was used to reading from this author.
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Everything begins when Daniel Mercier sits down for dinner on the table next to the French President, Francois Mitterrand. When the president gets up to leave, he leaves behind his hat. Daniel seizes the opportunity and takes the hat with him as he leaves.
When he wears the hat, Daniel seems to feel different somehow. He’s more emboldened, more confident, more direct and ultimately more successful. It’s as though putting the hat on his head has allowed him to come out of his shell and become the person he should always have been. Astonished by his good luck, Daniel clings to the hat as a symbol of everything he’s achieved. That is, until he leaves the hat on the train and it’s picked up by a new wearer, who might just need a little inspiration of her own.
From here, the hat continues to change hands while Daniel continues his hunt to get it back again. Wearing the hat seems to give each character the motivation they need to make changes in their lives. As readers, we’re left to wonder whether this newfound confidence really comes from the hat, or if the hat is just a catalyst that unlocks what was there all along.
It also raises the question of fate, and how we have the ability to make our destinies and to carve out the path that we want, even if it might seem impossible. Continue reading →