Nicolas Sarkozy may no longer be president of France, but his name hasn’t strayed far from the headlines.
A novel, to be released on Thursday, June 14, is said to have “frightened” Sarkozy’s entourage with its exposé of the former president’s “dark side”.
Entitled “The Monarch, His Son, His Fief”, the book has been described by the French press as a thinly fictionalised political exposé that portrays Sarkozy as a narcissistic, tyrannical figure, hungry for revenge against his adversaries - and not above propositioning a female colleague for sexual favours.
The book is making an even bigger splash since its author is a devoted member of Sarkozy’s own centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party. Marie-Célie Guillaume is the cabinet director for Patrick Devedjian, a long-time Sarkozy ally who fell out with the former president when he did not obtain a prominent position in his administration.
Though names have been changed – the Sarkozy character is called “Rocky” – Guillaume has said in press interviews that the events and dialogue in the book are supposed to be based on facts.
Sex and ‘violence’ in the French political world
Much of “The Monarch, His Son, His Fief” details Sarkozy’s relationships with other UMP officials in the wealthy western Paris suburbs of Hauts-de-Seine, the area in which the former head of state got his political start as mayor in 1983. One of the scenes, bound to make the most waves, finds Rocky (the character inspired by Sarkozy) coming on to a female UMP official who’s asking him for a government subsidy for a museum in the city she represents.
In the scene, “Rocky” is miming boxing moves in front of the mirror when the official enters the room. Guillaume writes: “Still under the spell of euphoria from his imaginary boxing match, he feels the tension of combat and the excitement of victory throughout his body. He’s hot, very hot.”
Guillaume proceeds to describe the brief sexual encounter – “the monarch is in a hurry,” she writes - that ensues between Rocky and the female politician.
Some UMP politicians from Hauts-de-Seine, which remained a Sarkozy stronghold throughout the former president’s term and re-election campaign, have bristled at the book’s depiction of a man they consider one of their own. Isabelle Balkany, the deputy mayor of the elegant suburb of Levallois – and a close friend of Sarkozy’s – told French daily Le Monde that she found it “astonishing that [Guillaume] dare write a pseudo-satirical and borderline slanderous book about elected officials from the community she works for”.
Threats and insults for the author
Guillaume, who did not wish to speak to France24.com for this article, has told left-leaning French magazine Marianne that she has been threatened and insulted ever since the press started talking about her book.
With the UMP scrambling to collect votes ahead of the second round of French parliamentary elections on June 17, a scandal resulting from the book’s publication is the last thing the party needs.
In her interview with Marianne, Guillaume seemed unbowed, insisting that she did not write the book as a form of vengeance on the man seen as having betrayed her professional partner, Patrick Devedjian. “I needed an outlet,” she told Marianne.
Still, when asked which character most embodied the “political violence” denounced in the book, Guillaume minced no words. “Rocky,” she told Marianne, referring to the Sarkozy character. “His violence is all the more shocking and violent because he is the “monarch”, the person who is supposed to unite and pacify.”