Vengeance Froide

Under Fire Politically, France's Hollande Attacked by Ex-Partner in Book

C'est la vie, mon chéri. Source: AP
C'est la vie, mon chéri.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Ms. Trierweiler describes Mr. Hollande as “timid” and “indecisive” at a time when he is having trouble asserting his authority on political reforms in France.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Mr. Hollande reshuffled his cabinet as the French economy continues to stagnate.
    • He left Ms. Trierweiler in January 2014 after an affair with actress Julie Gayet.
    • Ms. Gayet won a court case against the magazine for publishing photos this week.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Valérie Trierweiler took one of two wise sayings to heart: “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” The journalist and ex-partner of French President François Hollande let seven months pass before she publicly dealt with the painful end of their relationship.

The second saying, however, she completely disregarded: Don’t kick someone when they are down. In her book, which will be released Thursday, and was published in Germany only to be brought over the border at the last minute to keep the material secret, she deals the already unpopular Mr. Hollande a nasty kick or two. The extracts, which her employer Paris Match published Wednesday with a juicy series of pictures, show an egotistical, part anxious and part devious politician, who can’t handle having power and its darker side.

“Do you really need so long to make yourself look so beautiful? Well, you don’t have anything else to do,” he reportedly said to her before a state dinner. This to the media professional, who had patiently stood by his side during the entire tedious rise to the presidency.

Ms. Trierweiler does not give away state secrets. But her book, of which Mr. Hollande did not know the contents until Wednesday, reinforces the prevailing impression of a president who flip-flops and is unable to make decisions.

It’s curious that Ms. Trierweiler complains about a lack in discretion and then reveals personal details in a book.

The high point of the book: Mr. Hollande, who in January 2014 bluntly cast her aside, reportedly then begged for a fresh start. “He sent me a text message in which he assured me of his love, he wrote that I am his life, and that without me it is like he is paralyzed,” Ms. Trierweiler writes. She claims that he would send her up to 29 text messages a day, asking constantly to see her or to take her out to dinner. Ms. Trierweiler writes that this behavior perplexed her, because at the same time, there were rumors circulating that Mr. Hollande may marry his girlfriend, actress Julie Gayet.

His affair with Ms. Gayet had been going on for one year, when it was made public after Closer magazine published photos in January of Mr. Hollande leaving their apartment. A French court fined the publication for releasing the pictures this week.

The book doesn’t offer a lot of new details about Mr. Hollande as a politician. The journalist Ms. Trierweiler describes how a couple living under the pressure of politics and the country’s highest office drifted apart. She accuses him of allowing his advisers to push themselves between him and her since the election. She writes that he became increasingly withdrawn, was cold and suspicious. She adds that his security detail did not give the unmarried couple any privacy.

Along those lines, it’s curious that Ms. Trierweiler complains about a lack in discretion and then reveals personal details in a book, culminating in the description of a scene in which she and Mr. Hollande wrestle over a bag of sleeping pills. Ms. Trierweiler herself concludes that she was probably not made for the courtly formality and hypocrisy of politics. But nobody forced her to sample it so lavishly.

This article was translated by Mary Beth Warner. To contact the author: Hanke@handelsblatt.com

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