Sunday 17 December 2017

The life and times of Mrs Sarkozy laid bare

A book detailing the first lady's lovers and plastic surgeons is about to rock France, says Aoife Drew

It's been a tough time for Carla Bruni-Sarkozy recently. Being called a "marriage-wrecking prostitute" by Islamic fundamentalists does not exactly sit well with the demure Jackie O-esque image she is striving for as France's first lady.

However, life looks set to get a whole lot tougher for the ex-supermodel very soon as a controversial and revealing new book detailing her secret life and loves is set to be published in France.

According to Agence France Presse, French journalist Besma Lahouri has worked for a year and a half gathering information on Carla's background, from her idyllic childhood to her current role as the third wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Her youth, her friends, her sex life, her relationship with plastic surgeons and her careers as a supermodel, singer and actress will all be laid bare.

It's said that the book, which will be published by leading French editing group Flammarion, will reveal Carla to be a "fast-living adventuress obsessed with wealth and fame". Lawyers are currently combing it to prevent any potential legal action. Until the book is released in mid-September, its author Lahouri, famous for her biography of French footballer Zinedine Zidane, is reported to be in hiding, with security guards protecting her work.

Carla is still reeling from recent attacks made on her by the extremely conservative Iranian national newspaper Kayhan, which declared she was a "prostitute" who "deserves death". These criticisms were in reaction to her support of 43-year-old mother-of-two Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death by stoning. In response, French foreign affairs spokesperson Bernard Valero has branded the remarks unacceptable and said this message will be communicated through the normal diplomatic channels.

Ms Bruni-Sarkozy is part of a high-profile group fighting for Ms Ashtiani's cause. Politicians such as UK foreign office minister Alastair Burt and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with celebrities including Colin Firth, Robert Redford and Juliette Binoche, have publicly denounced the practice of execution by stoning. This barbaric form of capital punishment involves the prisoner being buried up to the neck, with a crowd throwing stones (which cannot be too big, in order to avoid instant death) at the captive's head until life is lost.

Carla is said to be "deeply-shocked" by the insults. While it's not the first time she's been criticised for her love life (she was once indirectly referred to as "a preying mantis" for stealing famous French philosopher Raphael Enthoven away from his then wife, novelist Justine Levy), the remarks have led the international media to yet again dredge up her colourful love life and past.

Indeed, Ms Bruni-Sarkozy has had somewhat of an annus horribilis in terms of bad press. Rumours of an affair with French award-winning musician Benjamin Biolay surfaced in March, while it was simultaneously alleged that her husband was sleeping with ecology minister Chantal Jouanno.

In the wake of the scandal, the press recalled her wild youth and string of famous lovers such as Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger and French ex-prime minister Laurent Fabius. We were reminded of her well-documented distaste for monogamy. Newsweek editor Jonathan Alter claimed in his book that Carla confided in Michelle Obama how Sarkozy's demanding schedule prevented them from making love frequently enough.

To add insult to injury, footage of Carla appearing on Channel 4's weird and wonderful TV series Eurotrash back in 1996 reappeared this summer. In it, she banters with presenters and asks questions such as "Do you like my titties?"

None of this coverage is suitable for a first lady trying to deflect attention away from her personal history and on to her clean new image as a humanitarian focused on charity work, especially the fight against Aids -- her own brother died from complications of the disease in 2006.

So, the release of this book is particularly bad news, for both Carla and her husband, who is expected to run for

election to a second term of presidency in 2012.

However, another book on Carla will also grab headlines in September, this time with her approval and participation. In the book Carla et les Ambitieux (ie 'Carla and the Ambitious'), which will be printed by the French publishing house Editions du Moment, she speaks to journalists Yves Derai and Michael Darmon at length, mainly focusing on her life with Nicolas Sarkozy .

The French press are already predicting a "war of the biographies" and speculating as to how the public will react to both books. In any case, what the French refer to as la rentree litteraire (ie, the publishing sector's return to work after the summer holidays) promises to be a very exciting one this year.

Sunday Independent

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