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Valerie Trierweiler proves revenge is a dish best served as tell-all book

By Aoife Drew

Bam! Take that, Franky (or "Flanby" as he is known to his enemies). Valerie Trierweiler, a woman scorned, is on strike two of her detailed revenge strategy versus her ex-partner, French president Francois Hollande, after her ignominious dumping and subsequent humiliation in January of this year.

You may recall that it wasn't pretty. After his affair with attractive actress Julie Gayet was revealed, he lied to Trierweiler, then came clean, then issued a one-line statement to the international press saying that they were no longer a couple (without telling the lady herself as much).

Meanwhile he was allegedly still sending her texts in between meetings with Obama and Putin, saying he'd do anything to get her back (she counts a total of 29 texts on one day). With all the stress, Trierweiler "took a pill too many" and ended up hospitalised for over a week.

Pas bien. Nasty behaviour and unfortunate circumstances for all concerned. Well, the path of true (French presidential) love never did run smooth. But as far as Trierweiler is concerned, now it's payback time.

Strike one was to draw on her talents as a journalist to quickly whip up a book and release it on the French market. Entitled sarcastically Thank You For This Moment: A Story of Love, Power and Betrayal it has topped best-seller lists and reached national sales of 600,000 copies (although, of course, no one in Paris worth their baguette would ever dare admit reading such a tawdry account of a president's love life and dirty laundry).

Full of intimate details about their nine "mad, passionate" years together, over 320 pages she recounts her 18 months with President François Hollande at the Elysee Palace and the dismal demise of their relationship.

In fact, she paints such an unflattering portrait of her former partner who latterly took to midnight jaunts with Gayet (who, at 42, is seven years younger than Trierweiler) that the book has been dubbed The Rottweiler's Revenge. Which brings us on to strike two.

Trierweiler has now decided to bring her retribution up a notch and carry out war on an international scale. The book, initially released in French last September, has now been translated into 11 languages including Italian, Chinese, Polish, Albanian and Vietnamese.

And, since yesterday, the former first lady has been bringing out the big guns and hitting London. She is speaking about the book publicly for the first time to the UK public and participating in a round of TV and press interviews as part of a promotional grand tour, including meetings with the BBC and The Times. Poor old Flanby. With his popularity points hovering around 12% (it goes up or down three points every few months, but whatever way you look at the figures, he's the most unpopular president in French history) his ex-partner really knows how to kick him while he's down.

You'd nearly feel sorry for him. Except you wouldn't, especially if you believe Trierweiler's account in her book.

She paints him as weak and uncaring. As Hollande's "first girlfriend" she writes that she always felt illegitimate at the Elysee Palace, as a woman who started out a mistress and stayed a mistress. Trierweiler and Hollande both left their ex-partners to be together and Hollande had a very public separation with the current Minister for Ecology and mother of his four children, Segolene Royal. She tells an anecdote about a time when they were on the campaign trail, someone in the crowd cried out "don't marry her Francois, we don't like Valerie!" Instead of sticking up for his partner, Hollande merely laughed in response. Not tres gallant, is it?

She also hints at his vanity. Although she gave him a makeover - helping him with diet, hair dye, sharp suits - to help him get elected, she accuses him of using her glamour for publicity; yet, if she stole too much limelight, he wasn't pleased either.

She writes that before one official occasion: "He barked 'Go get changed. Get dressed!' because he thought my dress was too sexy. Reluctantly, I agreed to wear a shawl over my bare shoulders".

When it comes to politics, among the most damaging claims she makes is that Hollande "dislikes the poor" calling them "the toothless" or "sans dents" and mocked her own working-class background. For a politician who built his election campaign on "hating the rich" it's not ideal PR.

No socialist wants to be known as a 'Champagne socialist', but that's exactly what she writes, insisting that he loves the high life: "He wouldn't eat strawberries unless they were tasty gariguettes grown in the south; and he wouldn't think twice of throwing meat in the bin if it had been purchased vacuum-packed ... Francois wants the best of everything for himself. Indeed, he's the sort of person who'd rather not have a meal at all if it's not first-rate".

Hollande denies it all. "I felt this attack on the poor, the dispossessed, as if it were a blow to my whole life. In all the posts I have held I have only thought of helping, representing those who suffer".

Peut-etre, although 88% of French people would disagree with that right now. There's no doubt, it's war and Trierweiler is dedicating her life to revenge.

It remains to be seen what she'll come up with for strike three - watch this space.

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