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  • Carla Bruni Sarkozy, the Italian-born heiress and ex-supermodel long considered among the world’s most desirable women, has allegedly let power and privilege go to her head. She’s viewed as distant and aloof to the French people and a liability for her husband French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    That’s the portrait unauthorized biographer Besma Lahouri paints of France’s first lady in “Carla: A Secret Life.”

    Lahouri says Bruni-Sarkozy has become so jealous of First Lady Michelle Obama that she has strained relations between the French and U.S. presidential couples.

    In France she’s hardly known, let alone seen very often, at a time when the conservative president’s popularity has plummeted, and
    a sympathetic first lady could help his image.

    “The French don’t know their first lady, and her worries seem to them very far removed from their own,” Lahouri told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday (Sept. 14), a day ahead of the much-anticipated release of her book.

    All the French have seen of Bruni-Sarkozy of late, Lahouri said, is footage of her with the Queen of England and other dignitaries, picture-perfect in Christian Dior skirt suits with marching hats, shoes and handbags.

    A Carla Bruni Retrospective: Click to Enlarge!

    Once regarded as a poster child of the “gauche caviar,” France’s moneyed progressives, Bruni-Sarkozy “turned her back on her political convictions” following her 2008 marriage with Sarkozy, a tough-talking conservative, Lahouri said.

    “Suddenly, the Carla Bruni of yesteryear, who was free and spoke out, no longer existed. … and she doesn’t even support her husband. You never hear her publicly stand up in his defense, either.”

    Lahouri said she interviewed about 100 people — including longtime friends, fashion designers and even Bruni-Sarkozy’s childhood nanny — during her research for “Carla.” But she never interviewed the first lady herself. She declined all requests.

    The book covers her lonesome but fabulously wealthy childhood in Turin, Italy, through her relationships with the likes of Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton through her first meeting with Sarkozy in late 2007 and their marriage just months later.

    The only only person that Bruni-Sarkozy believes can challenge her for the title of “the world’s sexiest and most glamorous first lady.”

    The book suggests that Obama’s alleged antipathy, or perhaps just indifference, to Bruni-Sarkozy has allegedly helped keep relations frosty between the French and U.S. presidential couples.

    Lahouri says Bruni-Sarkozy is “a chameleon,” someone who has “trained herself to be a formidable actress.”

    “She is a very foxy woman — I choose the word ‘foxy’ over ‘clever.’ In fact, very foxy.”

    Jenny Barchfield writes for the Associated Press Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.