LUANN DE LESSEPS lives in a glass house, and until now she has liked it that way. As one of six aspiring socialites whose foibles are copiously detailed on "The Real Housewives of New York City," the countess, as Mrs. de Lesseps is known on the program, has placed her shopping sprees, her charitable works, her family life and her estate in Bridgehampton, N.Y., on public view. Every Tuesday night, and in weekly recycled episodes on the Bravo network, she can be seen enjoying the front-row seats at fashion shows, the tennis matches and the benefit galas that are the fruits of money and rank.
But glass houses are fragile, and in recent weeks the edifice constructed by Mrs. de Lesseps, a former nurse from Connecticut, has splintered around her in shards. Last month, her husband of 16 years, Alexandre de Lesseps, 59, brusquely informed her that he had taken up with a much younger woman. The news, delivered in an e-mail message and promptly picked up by the tabloids, left her devastated, she said.