*The author of a book on Carla Bruni-Sarkozy says he stands by his account of First Lady Michelle Obama complaining about life in the White House, but now admits she was probably joking.

As previously reported, both the White House and the French embassy in Washington strongly denied Thursday that Obama had told Bruni that she found life as first lady to be “hell,” as recounted in the biography “Carla and the Ambitious.”

But Yves Derai, co-author of the book with Michael Darmon, told AFP that the pair stood by their account of the March 31 dinner at which the two first ladies allegedly had the exchange.

“We maintain this account but in terms of interpretation I think the Americans are overanalyzing this. It was an exchange that was in a jokey tone, not serious. It was an informal dinner, relaxed,” Derai said.

“I won’t reveal my sources, of course.”