Thursday 23 November 2017

"I didn't want to live through humiliation of affair"

Valerie Trierweiler, with French President Francois Hollande
Valerie Trierweiler, with French President Francois Hollande

John Lichfield

The former French First Lady, Valerie Trierweiler, paints an acerbic picture of a cold, snobbish and hypocritical President Francois Hollande in a potentially explosive book.

The book, printed amid great secrecy in Germany, contains only one startling revelation. Ms Trierweiler admits that she tried to take an overdose of sleeping pills in January when it emerged that President Hollande was having an affair with the actress Julie Gayet.

Ms Trierweiler (49) does not quite say that she tried to kill herself, but she describes wrestling with the President as he tried to tear a bag of sleeping tablets from her hands.

"Pills fell all over the bed and the floor," she writes. "I got hold of some of them and swallowed as many as I could. I wanted to sleep. I didn't want to live through the hours [of humiliation] that were coming.

"I knew that a storm was going to break over my head and I didn't have the strength to go through it. I wanted to run from it. I lost consciousness."

Ms Trierweiler was then taken to hospital. The incident was minimised at the time by the Elysee Palace as an "accident" or a "bad reaction" to the pills.

Later the same month, Mr Hollande dumped her as his partner and as First Lady. The remainder of the 320-page book 'Merci Pour Ce Moment' (Thank You For This Short Time Together) may disappoint those who expected Ms Trierweiler to vent her spleen on the President or expose his innermost secrets.

She does accuse Mr Hollande of lying to her about his affair with Ms Gayet. She says that he had agreed to marry her in Christmas 2012, seven months after he became President, but then "withdrew the offer a month before the wedding with words of inexpressible cruelty. Julie Gayet was already part of his life, but I didn't know it."

In March last year, she says she challenged Mr Hollande about rumours of his affair. He accused her of repeating "tittle-tattle".

More damaging politically may be Ms Trieweiller's assertion that the Socialist President "hates the poor". Mr Hollande said during his election campaign in 2012 that he "hated the rich". Ms Trierweiler, herself from a poor family in central France, suggests that the opposite is true.

Mr Hollande refers in private to poor or uneducated French people as "les sans dents" or "the toothless ones", she writes. When confronted with her own extended family of working-class aunts, uncle and cousins, he leaned to her and whispered that "they are not very pretty, are they?"

The real problem in their relationship, she suggests, was that Mr Hollande had never separated himself emotionally from his long-time partner and the mother of his four children, the politician Segolene Royal. "In his sub-conscious mind," she writes, "his real partnership was always with her."

Two or three other short extracts were published yesterday by 'Paris Match', the magazine for which Ms Trierweiler used to work as a journalist. Other extracts from the book were revealed by 'Le Monde'.

In one passage, the former First Lady speaks of the fury of the American First Lady, Michelle Obama, after the publication of a "selfie" of Barack Obama and the Danish Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt. "At least I am not the only person who suffers from jealousy," she writes.

Over 200,000 copies of the book have been printed. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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