France riveted by Sarkozy's 'love story'

Former French leader's memoir, which recounts the first two dramatic years of his presidency, tops the country's bestsellers list for a third straight week

Mr Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni in Paris on Bastille Day in this July 2008 photograph. He married singer and former model Bruni after a whirlwind romance.
Mr Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni in Paris on Bastille Day in this July 2008 photograph. He married singer and former model Bruni after a whirlwind romance.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy's "love story" memoir has topped the country's bestsellers list for a third straight week, according to the rankings last Friday.

The Time Of Storms recounts the first two dramatic years of his presidency, when his wife Cecilia left him and he married singer and former model Carla Bruni after a whirlwind romance.

Mr Sarkozy served as French President between 2007 and 2012.

The book is far ahead of a bevy of novels for the beach by some of the country's leading authors, according to the GfK/Livres Hebdo ranking.

Mr Sarkozy's publisher says that nearly a quarter of a million copies of the memoir had been sold so far and another reprint was on the way.

Despite his failure to revive his political career after his defeat by socialist Francois Hollande in 2012, Mr Sarkozy - and particularly his private life - continue to fascinate the French.

The new book also tells of how the mercurial leader had Mr Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then seen as a possible future rival for the Elysee Palace, appointed to head the International Monetary Fund.

Mr Strauss-Kahn was forced to resign in 2011 after he was arrested for the attempted rape of a hotel maid in New York. The charges were later dropped, but DSK, as the socialist politician is known, settled a civil case with the woman, reportedly for US$1.5 million.

Since then, Mr Sarkozy has been implicated in a series of corruption and illegal party-funding scandals, including allegations he had Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi help finance his successful 2007 presidential campaign.

Months later, he brought Mr Gaddafi in from the diplomatic cold, letting him pitch his Bedouin tent opposite the Elysee on a state visit to France.

But in 2011, Mr Sarkozy was the driving force behind the international military invention that toppled Mr Gaddafi, who was killed by rebel fighters in October that year.

Come October, Mr Sarkozy, 65, will become France's first ex-president to stand trial for alleged crimes while in office, in a case in which he is accused of trying to obtain classified information from a judge.

Another trial on the alleged illegal financing of his 2012 campaign could also start later this year.

Yet the French public cannot get enough of Mr Sarkozy's literary output, with his "book on life", Passions, shifting 200,000 copies last year, the kind of numbers that only celebrated novelists are capable of selling.

Indeed, since 1994, Mr Sarkozy has authored nearly a dozen tomes of various kinds, with his book Testimony in 2006, the year before he was elected president, selling about 350,000 copies.

No matter what new charges and scandals he faces, his book signings always see loyal fans turning out in force.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2020, with the headline 'France riveted by Sarkozy's 'love story''. Subscribe