The Princess and the President
We might have been expecting something more from him along the lines of restoring order to the world of finance or the future of the European Continent. However, the former President of the Republic has not lost his taste for surprising us and, this autumn, he has decided to return to the novel, a genre he formerly tackled in style in 1994, with Le Passage.
This new work, entitled The Princess and the President, falls within the tradition of those understated, simple and restrained narratives— classical writings in effect—that, since the 17th century, have assured the reputation of French literature.
The Princess and the President is the story of a reciprocal passion between two exceptional people. The heroine undoubtedly owes a great deal to the “The People’s Princess”, destined for a tragic end by the gods of fate, who are jealous of anyone with talents that transcend the ordinary. In this book, she effortlessly captivates one of the most eminent statesmen of the past few years, almost without his knowledge. We witness their first meetings, the birth followed by the “crystallisation” of the feeling that will soon take over both their lives; and what might have been nothing more than a fantasy develops into a great love. The world of politics, or at least its trappings, also makes an appearance in this often extremely intimate story, which is partly set in the palaces of the Republic and the British Monarchy and unfolds a little more with each international summit and presidential trip. It reveals the constraints that are bound to impinge on the private life of the two protagonists, because neither of them can forget the duties incumbent on their rank and office.
We will leave it up to the reader to undertake the enjoyable task of discovering whether the story ends happily like the Sound of Music or “Bérénice”.
On the other hand, it is impossible to make too much of the accuracy of this double portrait. We thought we knew everything there was to know about the woman whom the author calls the Princess of Cardiff. The reader will discover that perhaps no one before has done her justice with as much sensitivity and discernment.
However, although private and public history only cast a shadow over what is genuinely a work of fiction, the subtle, suggestive relationship that exists between this novel and reality may keep readers guessing for years to come.