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Bruni 'hurt' by mocking reviews of her new CD

France's first lady Carla Bruni said yesterday she was "hurt" by frosty reactions to her new album from critics of her husband President Nicolas Sarkozy, as the much-hyped record went on sale across Europe.

Half a million people logged on to the Web to listen to the third album by the supermodel-turned-chanteuse, Comme si de rien n'était ( Simply), ahead of its official release, according to figures from her record label Naïve.

But the sixties-flavoured album has sparked some mocking reviews and an outpouring of vitriol on the Internet by French voters hostile to the right-wing leader.

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"Of course it hurts me, but I also find it quite natural," Bruni said in a radio interview. "It's understandable that people can't help mixing up my work as an artist and my function. Maybe they feel offended by the fact the head of state's wife should make a record."

Sales of the record at one giant FNAC record store in central Paris got off to a slow start yesterday, with 60 copies sold by lunchtime.

The 40-year-old Bruni married Sarkozy in February after a three-month romance.

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