‘Housewives’ countess ‘blindsided’ by her breakup

NEW YORK — Countess LuAnn de Lesseps, one of the sassy ladies of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York,” said she was “blindsided” when her husband of 16 years ended their marriage.

Last week, she confirmed her separation from Count Alexandre de Lesseps, who appeared intermittently on “Real Housewives.”

“I try to stand up tall and walk out the door every day and take it day by day,” the countess, who is keeping her title, said Thursday. “Because, after 16 years of being married, it’s like something has died. And I’m going through a grieving process.”

But at the same time, she said, “I’m trying to be positive and look at this as a turning point for me.”

The former model, 43, confirmed a report that the breakup came after she received an e-mail message from the count, who spends much time overseas. She says, “I just think some people aren’t good at confrontation.”

The count, a Frenchman whose ancestor presented the Statue of Liberty to the United States, reportedly was having a relationship with another woman.

“I don’t really want to know right now,” de Lesseps said. “I just want to maintain our friendship so that I can get what I need to move forward and do it in the best way for the children.”

The countess and the count have a 14-year-old daughter, Victoria, and a 12-year-old son, Noel. They share homes on Long Island and in Manhattan.

Distance caused the couple to grow apart, she said.

“It’s very difficult to live separate,” she said. “He travels an awful lot and I was alone a lot. … So I would say that was one of the big factors for us.”

Her book, “Class With the Countess,” arrives April 16. It contains advice on etiquette, social grace and background on her past, especially her life in Italy.

In a chapter on how to woo the opposite sex, she discusses her whirlwind romance with the thrice-divorced count after connecting at a dinner party in Gstaad, Switzerland. She said it was love at first sight.

“When I wrote the book, I wrote it from a different place,” she said. “I was secure in my marriage and I had no idea this was going to happen to me. So it’s been a really difficult time for me, and the information is there and it’s what I live by.”

In the book, De Lesseps gives advice for handling a breakup, saying she’s “a big believer that a better man is just around the corner.”

Doe she still believe that?

“You won’t find better than my husband,” she said. “He is a great man. I know he has his faults, as we all do. … Another love, hopefully, (is) waiting for me around the corner.”