Spanning the years 1917 through 1937, “The Finest Hat in the Whole World” follows Des Stewart and his niece Phena through the decades of the Great World War, flu pandemic, Prohibition, and the Great Depression. Yet, the world’s turmoil is nothing compared to that of their fractured family.
Des Stewart is “the responsible one” of his siblings. While his elusive older brother Gerald and irresponsible younger brother Eddie are living new lives with spouses and children of their own, he has put his life on hold to care for their widowed invalid mother who is gradually slipping into senility. Now thirty years old, he tends bar at a saloon close to home. Haunted by tragedy, burdened with guilt, secrets, and regrets, he is depressed, overweight and feeling hopeless about his future.
An opportunity for redemption arrives in the winter of 1917 when nine year-old Phena comes to live with him. Troubled, temperamental and volatile, the girl has exhausted the patience of her parents, Gerald and Louise. However, Des and Phena have a bond that originated the night of her traumatic birth, a bond that distance and circumstance could never break.
Can Des overcome his insecurities and bitterness as he molds Phena into an honorable woman?
And… what does it mean to wear the finest hat in the whole world?