London, August 11 (ANI): A controversial, thinly veiled fable of political love and war in Nicolas Sarkozy's fiefdom in the rich western suburbs of Paris is the surprise bestseller of the summer in France after it cost its author her job, infuriated the politician's son Jean, and stoked tensions in the already fractured rightwing UMP party.
According to the novel, a power-crazed leader known as Rocky does pelvic floor exercises with his personal trainer on the Elysee lawn.
He also shadow boxes in front of a mirror in his presidential office and in one especially caustic passage, minutes before a public appearance, demands a sexual favour from a provincial mayor in return for subsidising a medieval history museum.
'Le Monarque, Son Fils, Son Fief' (The monarch, his son, his fief) by Marie-Celie Guillaume has topped the French bestseller charts for seven weeks, surprising critics and embarrassing the French right.
Its presence in summer suitcases has shown not just readers' continued appetite for the bizarre character plots that defined Sarkozy's presidency, but also that truth can sometimes be stranger than fiction.
Guillaume was head of staff for Patrick Devedjian, a one-time Sarkozy ally and minister for economic recovery, when she decided to tell all in a barely disguised roman a clef about the infighting in the Hauts de Seine, the richest department in France.
Jean, the former president's young student son, whose rise in local politics sparked allegations of nepotism, appears as Le Dauphin - an heir apparent desperate for attention from his absent father.
Sarkozy's easily recognisable political friends appear as self-interested, cigar-chomping, bling-obsessed and permatanned a shade of deep caramel orange.
But the worst is reserved for Rocky, the Sarkozy character, who is so excited by power that he demands a sex act from a female politician who has an appointment at his office, telling her: Look at the state I'm in, you can't leave me like this ...
The book sparked such outrage from the Sarkozy camp in the Hauts-de-Seine that Devedjian sacked Guillaume as his head of cabinet.
Jean Sarkozy accused Devedjian of being behind the book himself and lashed out at Guillaume for what he called a vile and sordid tissue of lies.
She in turn argued that the writing had been an outlet after the horrors of political infighting in the Hauts-de-Seine. She wanted to show politics in its most crude and brutal form.
Asked about the Sarkozy sex scene, which his allies dismissed as unlikely, she said she'd wanted to give an idea of power and sex that was universal.
This mix of the political and the literary on the summer bestseller lists is a taste of what's to come in the annual French publishing drive at the end of August.
The main event of the publishing season is the first novelist-penned account of the new Socialist president, Francois Hollande. (ANI)