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Valerie Trierweiler (inset) has released a book about her time with Francois Hollande (pictured inset with Trierweiler)

Valerie Trierweiler (inset) has released a book about her time with Francois Hollande (pictured inset with Trierweiler)

Valerie Trierweiler in March this year

Valerie Trierweiler in March this year

Getty Images

Julie Gayet

Julie Gayet

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Francois Hollande leaving Julie Gayet's apartment

Francois Hollande leaving Julie Gayet's apartment

Valerie Trierweiler in the aftermath of the revelation of Hollande's affair

Valerie Trierweiler in the aftermath of the revelation of Hollande's affair

Getty Images

Valerie Trierweiler with Francois Hollande in 2012

Valerie Trierweiler with Francois Hollande in 2012

Getty Images

Valerie Trierweiler's books

Valerie Trierweiler's books

AFP/Getty Images

Valerie Trierweiler

Valerie Trierweiler

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Valerie Trierweiler (inset) has released a book about her time with Francois Hollande (pictured inset with Trierweiler)

It was the image that captured the attention of the world's media in an instant. Valerie Trierweiler striding confidently on the red carpet laid out at the Élysée Palace for her partner Francois Hollande, the newly elected French president.

Seemingly at just the right moment - and displaying lightning-quick reactions to a gust of wind on what was otherwise a still summer's day in Paris - Valerie exhibited a generous flash of leg.

It was all so wonderfully French. She was wearing, of course, nude suspenders, and had completed the look with towering stilettos and perfected coiffed hair.

Had it happened to a less astute woman, the assumption would have been that the incident was entirely accidental. But for a savvy twice-divorced journalist who came from humble beginnings to nab the position of France's First Lady, this moment was surely always part of the plan.

Indeed, despite the presence of Carla Bruni - ex girlfriend of Mick Jagger and former supermodel who, along with her husband Nicolas Sarkozy, had injected a splash of celebrity into French politics - it was Ms Trierweiler who stole the show on that historic day back in May 2012. Certainly, it was she and not Carla who made the front pages of the next morning's newspapers.

That Ms Trierweiler thought that she could charm a French people who had always struggled to warm to her was perhaps naive. Keeping a personal staff of five and spending freely, during her Palace residency, there were regular comparisons to Marie Antoinette. Indeed, even when it emerged at the beginning of this year that Hollande had been having an affair with actress Julie Gayet - and that Valerie had attempted suicide in the aftermath - she received little public affection or sympathy. Instead, it was assumed that this was a woman who was reaping what she had sowed. Now Valerie Trierweiler surely feels she is having her own retribution.

Yesterday, she released an explosive 330-page book, Merci Pour Ce Moment, or Thank You For The Moment, filled with a litany of juicy details from her time as First Lady. With a 12-page preview published on the pages of her former employer Paris Match on Wednesday, France is already hooked. The publishers have ordered a first print run of some 200,000 copies, a figure which they have labelled as "conservative".

Michelle Obama's jealousy of Barack's selfie with the female Danish Prime Minister; Francois's 29 grovelling texts in a single day; downing sleeping pills during her suicide attempt - Valerie has compiled an incredible amount of detail in a remarkably short space of time. Certainly, there can be no doubt as to what has been filling her hours since her dramatic departure from the president's sprawling official residence, located just off the famed Champs-Élysée, in January.

Sixty-year-old Hollande, Palace sources say, has been caught out entirely by the move."He was absolutely unaware that a book was in the offing," one aide said in response. "He found out this week like everyone else."

But then, Valerie herself had been given no warning when eight months ago Closer magazine printed photographs of the President arriving at and leaving the apartment of actress Julie Gayet (42).

She had been humiliated - not least because, as she reveals in Thank You For The Moment, rumour on the matter had been circulating for weeks. It was rumour, she says, that Francois had cruelly dismissed absolutely when she quizzed him directly on it.

In her eyes the affair was particularly stinging because she had risked so much in order to be with her Socialist Party lover. Jilted publicly, for Valerie Trierweiler going quietly into the night was never going to be an option.

A decade ago the 49-year-old was still living with her second husband, Denis, a fellow journalist at Paris Match. Married since 1995, the couple has three children.

Although the exact date has always been unclear, it is around this time that she began her affair with Hollande, a man who himself was in a 30-year long relationship with his university sweetheart, Ségolène Royal.

Royale is the mother of his four children and, to the outside world, the pair was seen to be a solid, happy unit that embraced traditional family values.

It was an image that was promoted shamelessly as part of Royal's presidential bid in 2007, and it was only when she was defeated by Nicolas Sarkozy that this facade was revealed to be almost entirely politically motivated.

A married journalist; a Socialist politician, and his presidential candidate partner: it was the love-triangle that captivated France - their very own Charles-Camilla-Diana trio. Valerie was painted as a home-wrecker and, when previous meetings between Hollande's women were unearthed, a back-stabber.

Incredibly, the French media scorned, in 1992 lying in a Parisian maternity ward after giving birth to her fourth child by Hollande, Royal had given the first, exclusive interview to none other than Trierweiler. Other observations were similarly scathing, as was her tabloid nickname "Rottweiler".

Nevertheless, Valerie seemed immune to the circulating criticism and promptly left her second husband to set up home with her new love.

By the time he was voted in as the ninth president of the Fifth Republic, she must have felt that her time had come; that her ambition and drive had paid off. It was a standing that was, of course, rather short-lived.

Following her suicide attempt, Ms Trierweiler wasn't even home from hospital a week when Hollande announced that "she was no longer part of his life". It may come as a surprise then that her book reveals the President was desperate to reunite with her, texting her for months after their split.

"He said he needed me. Each evening he asked me to have dinner with him. "He said he wanted to get me back whatever the price. He said he would win me back as if I was an election," she writes.

This week, Ms Trierweiler - who had been, it should be noted, forgotten rather quickly - will be pleased to have once again captured the public's imagination in a way she hasn't been able to since that afternoon at the Élysée Palace more than two years' ago.

Unquestionably, the book is - at least in part - an act of sheer jealousy. It is the wounded response of a scorned woman. And it is also in its own way an act of love - the out-pouring of the love she invested in a man she feels she had sacrificed much for.

"Yes, jealously," she admits in her book. "I'm like that with every man I'm in love with." It could yet prove to be the final line in the sand in a passionate relationship that had blurred beginnings and a confused ending.

But, just as history has a habit of repeating itself, surely this is not yet the final chapter in the relationship of Valerie Trierweiler and Francois Hollande, whose affair has so far refused to die.

Irish Independent