Sarko: le D.I.V.O.R.C.E

All of France is talking about their first couple's split
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The award for the most striking metaphor of the week goes to Cécilia Sarkozy, ex-First Lady of France.

Explaining her quickie divorce from President Nicolas Sarkozy, five months after he had reached the pinnacle of his career, she said: "For him it's like a violinist who has been given a Stradivarius. Suddenly he has the chance to practise his art. It's not the same for me."

Mme Sarkozy suggested that she, a shy, retiring woman who loved the shadows, could not abide the glaring lights of politics at the highest level. In any case, she added rather more plausibly, she no longer loved her ex-husband: "What happened to me has happened to millions of people. Your relationship with your partner is no longer the essential thing in your life. It no longer works."

As frank confessions go, Mme Sarkozy's interview with L'Est Republicain left many questions unanswered. If Cécilia Sarkozy is a private woman who loves solitude, why did she spend nine of her 11 years as the future President's wife hustling and bustling to promote his career?

Rumours swirl in France about the alleged real reasons for the break-up. Friends of the shortest-lasting First Lady in French history suggest that Cécilia (who has Spanish and Gypsy blood) is a passionate but also a fiercely intelligent and independent woman. She never forgave her husband – or herself – for persuading her to abandon her love affair with another man two years ago. The higher that Sarkozy climbed, the more she resented being defined by her marriage to a man whom she no longer loved. Cécilia Sarkozy as a feminist icon? We will see.

Officially, the people of France are treating the whole business with adult disdain. Don't believe a word of it – the country is chattering about little else. The polls say that more than 90 per cent of the French say that the divorce will not affect their opinion of the President. Don't believe that either. Nicolas Sarkozy has put much effort into crafting an image as a perpetual-motion winner, but a jilted husband, especially in France, is inevitably seen as a bit of a loser.