‘My mother’s relationship with Emmanuel forced me to be broadminded’

So often the direct victims of these hurtful and damaging rumours are women. Because “women are so easy for people to criticise, over their age, their physical appearance, their relationships, in a way that we see less of with men.” While Auzière can’t explain the psychology behind this, she believes that “in the same way that women are violated in war zones,” and indeed the women in Assises are victimised by the men in their families or entourages, “we are targets for a certain type of person in society. What I am certain of is that this needs to be condemned – and by men even more than women.”

As with all societal ills, this can only be changed “through education,” says Auzière, who divides her time between the Côte d’Opale on the north coast and Paris. She and her gastroenterologist husband, Antoine Choteau, have always tried to talk to their two children – Élise, 10, and Aurèle, 8 – “about the relationships between men and women and how we interact,” she says. “Because we are a new generation of parents and I’ve thought so much about how to explain different forms of violence to them; about how to explain harassment and consent.”

Explaining to her children how exceptional their circumstances are must be equally hard? “We are constantly reminding them of that, particularly because the current situation is basically the only one they’ve ever known. My stepfather became Minister of Economics just after my daughter was born, and then he became president. So they’ve only ever known their ‘daddy’, as they call him, with that level of responsibility and exposure. I’ve explained to him that it’s a job and that at a certain point, it will stop, but that as a family we will all still be here but in a different way. It’s important they understand that.”

Laughing, she tells me how her son “was initially convinced being president was a job like any other, and that he might go on to be president himself. I had to explain that there was only one every five years, that you didn’t naturally go into it – and that actually, it wasn’t the easiest job to do.”

Will a part of her be relieved in 2027, when Macron steps down? She gives a non-committal head wag. “I think I’ve managed to stay pretty anonymous really, and to live happily is to live anonymously. Both my stepfather and my mother have always been very protective of us three, and tried to shelter us from as much as they can.” She pauses. “We’ll all adapt, just as we adapted to him becoming president, and it’ll be a different life, but then I often feel that I’ve had a few lives since I was a little girl, so this will be yet another new one.”

Until then, Auzière intends to keep juggling the writing with the day job. Producers have expressed an interest in making a TV version of Assises, which doesn’t surprise me, given how similar a concept it is to the hit Canal+ TV drama Spiral, and people have been asking whether there might be a follow-up, “although at the moment, I’m actually writing a book about end of life, as it’s a subject that has touched me enormously.”

Our time is up, but before I go I’m curious to know what the most important piece of wisdom her mother passed down to her was: “It’s hard to find one because she was very present and gave me all kinds of great advice, but one key message was: ‘be an independent woman’. By independent she meant ‘free’; that you should be free to make whatever choices you want in life.”

Assises by Tiphaine Auzière is published by Stock, and out now

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