Until she was embroiled in the scandal, for which she was handed a three-year suspended prison sentence Monday, Penelope Fillon has pretty much stayed out of the glare of the public eye in France.
“Up until now, I have never been involved in the political life of my husband”, she said in October 2016, which perhaps, given the accusations that she was indeed actually working for him, now seems a bizarre statement.
But before “Penelope Gate” kicked off in France in January 2017, everything was a little different.
She's “ultra-discreet”, Le Figaro newspaper has written in the past, and Le Parisien called her la femme de l'ombre (“the woman of the shadows”). Closer magazine even called her the “anti-Carla Bruni” late last year, in a reference to ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy's publicity hungry wife.
They were all talking about Penelope Kathryn Fillon, the 61-year-old Welshwoman who is married to François Fillon, the man who polls had at one point suggested would be France's next president.
Fillon himself has been handed a five year prison sentence, three of which were suspended.
Given her desire for a “life in the shadows” it's a fair assumption that the thought of her becoming France's first ever Welsh first lady probably terrified her.
When Fillon became Prime Minister in 2007, she had this to say: “People are asking me what my new role is, but there isn't one.
“At the end of this week everything will calm down and I can go back to normal. People do not recognize me on the streets and I don't want to be (regognized). I would be terrified,” she said, before admitting to walking on the other side of the street to her husband sometimes.
But there were signs she was willing to embrace the spotlight a little.
The fiercely private woman has rarely granted interviews, which is perhaps not surprising given the fact that the last time the Fillons let the press into their home they ended up getting mocked by the public.
— Sébastien (@Sbastien_bYon) August 28, 2013
She told Le Journal du Dimanche she had carried out “a lot of different tasks” for her husband during his lengthy political career.
“He needed someone to do a lot of different tasks, and if it wasn't for me, he would have paid someone to do it, so we decided it would be me,” Penelope told the paper.
She urged her husband to “keep going to the end” but said only he could make the decision to stay in the race.
Fillon did keep going until the end but lost badly and is now heading to prison.