Thank You For This Moment by Valerie Trierweiler, book review: Torrid tale of love and betrayal in the Elysée Palace

 
Click to follow

Women scorned and duped by their unfaithful partners can take revenge in many ways. Some hide rotting prawns in the curtain poles of the home they're forced to vacate, others cut out the crotches of their erring menfolk's Armani suits.

For Valérie Trierweiler, forced to confront the croissant-bedevilled infidelities of her partner, the French President François Hollande, the choice was a more traditional and, indeed, profitable one – a memoir, Merci pour ce moment – which has already sold half a million copies in France.

To describe it as a memoir is perhaps misleading. Written without any chapters it's one long passionate cri de coeur penned hurriedly, and in secret, and saved on USB sticks under the pseudonym John Milton. Those, however, expecting Paradise Lost should look elsewhere. There's no doubt Trierweiler was treated abominably by a man who repaid her love, sacrifice and support with infidelity and cruelty. Yet, you can't escape the fact that this is more Mills & Boon than Milton.

Like all torrid tales of romance, it starts with a kiss that the married mother of three had with the slightly less than debonair and dashing Hollande at the start of their romance. And not just any kiss . "What passed that moment between us is indescribable, it was like a scene from a film. A kiss like no other I'd shared with anyone. A kiss that had been held back for nearly 15 years."

Having established he's a winner in the lips department, Trierweiler finds herself madly in love, expressed here in Sylvie Krin–like prose. "I would have followed him to the ends of the earth. The only thing that mattered to me was to be with him – wherever he was."

In return, he tells her, in what passes for Hollande sweet talk: "I love you because you are a funny lady."

But like all great romances, things begin to turn sour. Overblown doesn't quite cover it. When evidence surfaces that Hollande has been enjoying torrid nights and croissant breakfasts with actress Julie Gayet, he has not only knifed her but "plunged the blade in deeper still. Bitterness and anger made the wound fester". To make things worse, "he fanned the flames" while Gayet hangs around like, yes, you've guessed it a "snake in the grass".

Markedly missing from the narrative is much mention of the husband and father of her three children whom she abandoned to follow Hollande. In one of his only two appearances in the narrative, we learn that he was "handsome and intelligent but had an inner darkness". A darkness that increased presumably once he'd learnt of his wife's infidelity.

The translation is adequate but presumably rushed, so we catch "a fleeting image of a car with stained glass windows" (I'd like to see that) while on the day of Hollande's inauguration, she had to hold down her dress against the wind at the Arc de Triomphe "to avoid giving the photographers an eyeful". Lucky that didn't happen at the other famous Parisian landmark. Anatomically, she also proves to be different to the rest of us "I had my heart in my mouth," she admits at one point, "perhaps quite literally so."

At the end, you're left with little sympathy for the boorish, ill-mannered and deceiving Hollande and, I'm afraid, not much more for the wronged and ill-used Trierweiler.

Comments