Eighty-three-year-old former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing has brightened his long retirement by writing a steamy romantic novel about a French leader's affair with a British princess.
The Princess and the President recounts the secret and passionate love of two characters clearly modelled closely on both Giscard himself and the late Diana, Princess of Wales, according to today's edition of the daily Le Figaro.
Recast as President Jacques-Henri Lambertye and Princess Patricia of Cardiff, the pair meet at the closing dinner of a G7 summit after the young British royal has been left miserable by her princely husband's adultery.
"I kissed her hand and she gave me a questioning look, her slate grey eyes widening as she tilted her head gently forward," the presidential first-person narrator recounts.
The newspaper said Giscard's book rises above the level of a well-written romantic novel because of the wealth of detail he is able to supply about the French and British characters and the palaces in which they meet.
As befits a member of the prestigious Academie Francaise, the president also alludes to the literary classics, such as Alexandre Dumas' tales of the love between French princess Anne of Austria and the Duke of Buckingham.
But the book will most likely cause a stir as the latest to cash in on the posthumous Diana publishing industry, particularly as it includes a playful hint that there might be an element of truth in the story.
The "Princess and the President" will be released in Paris in French on October 1 by publishers Fallois-Xo.