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The End of the Affair?

Recapping Spectator publisher Kimberly Fortier's now notorious extramarital affair with former British cabinet minister David Blunkett.

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Despite its made-for-tabloid details and almost-daily dramas, Fortier’s story is far more sad than it is spectacular. It’s more in the spirit of Emma Bovary than Becky Sharp, whom the British press compares Fortier with constantly.

“She’s behaved very badly, and she’s now trying everything she can to save her marriage. She wants to stay with Stephen,” Andrew Roberts, a historian and contributor to The Spectator, said in a telephone interview.

Roberts, who used to vacation with Fortier and her ex-husband, Michael Fortier, added: “In those days she seemed very sweet, charming and balanced. There was never any hint of the cataclysms to come.”

That view is in marked contrast to many of those who have described her. Sunday Times columnist India Knight called Fortier “shamelessness on legs,” adding, “It’s not every day you come across somebody so dementedly and gracelessly determined to be seen with the right person.”

Born in Los Angeles to an affluent family, the 44-year-old Fortier is a daughter of Lugene Sanders, who played Babs Riley in the Fifties sitcom “The Life of Riley” and Marvin Solomon, owner of a radiation detection equipment company. As reported widely in the U.K. press —with more than a few snickers — she earned her pocket money as a teenager working as none other than Snow White at Disneyland.

After graduating from Vassar, Fortier worked as an assistant for Helen Gurley Brown at Cosmopolitan and wrote for magazines including Woman’s Day before marrying the American banker Michael Fortier in the late Eighties. The couple moved to London, where Fortier has lived since.

Before joining The Spectator as publisher in the late Nineties, Fortier worked for Condé Nast U.K., in the communications office. Nicholas Coleridge, managing director of Condé Nast U.K. (which, like WWD, is a unit of Advance Publications Inc.), introduced Fortier and Quinn, who were seen around London together for several years afterward. The couple finally married in 2001, after both had divorced their previous spouses. Quinn was overjoyed at the union, spending months planning the wedding and their honeymoon.

But only a few months after the wedding, Fortier began her three-year affair with Blunkett. This behavior clearly did not come as a surprise to Fortier’s ex-husband.
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