French First Lady sees herself in Eleanor Roosevelt

PARIS, June 6 Wed Jun 6, 2012 9:06pm IST

PARIS, June 6 (Reuters) - France's new First Lady, keen to remain a journalist despite her tie to President Francois Hollande, has drawn inspiration from one of the most popular American women of the 20th century, Eleanor Roosevelt.

"A journalist First Lady is nothing new," Valerie Trierweiler, Hollande's partner, said in her first article for weekly magazine Paris Match since he was elected president on May 6.

"Naturally, you need to look across the Atlantic to discover this unique case, instead of crying scandal."

The 47-year-old Trierweiler, who has worked for more than 20 years as a journalist for the magazine, has struck a deal to keep her job but switched from covering political affairs to arts and culture.

Paris Match says the new focus on book and arts reviews will avoid any conflict of interest with her personal life as the unmarried partner of 57-year-old Hollande.

Her choice of first book to review, "Eleanor Roosevelt - First Lady and Rebel", could hardly have been more relevant.

Trierweiler, a twice-divorced mother of three who has said she doesn't want to be boxed into the role of "second fiddle, first lady" - focused on the independence of a woman who refused to live silently in the shadow of U.S. wartime President Franklin Roosevelt.

"This mother of six comes to terms with having sometimes different opinions than FDR and refuses to be reduced to silence," wrote Trierweiler about Eleanor.

She went on to explain how America's First Lady began writing for various publications before embarking on a syndicated daily newspaper column that chronicled her life at the White House.

"Not only did the whole American press find no grounds for controversy, but quite the reverse, thanks to this chronicle she wrote until her death, Eleanor became extremely popular," Trierweiler wrote.

A Harris Interactive poll published last month found that three out of four people found Trierweiler "independent" but only a third said they found her "close to the people."

Some media outlets have dubbed her the "Iron Lady", and caricaturists have portrayed Hollande as under her thumb. (Reporting By Alexandria Sage; Editing by Brian Love and Paul Casciato)

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