You might have thought there was nothing more to be said about the murder in 1996 of Sophie Toscan du Plantier but it’s the story that keeps on giving. Twenty-five years later it still sells newspapers, captivates podcast listeners, grips documentary viewers. The narcissistic Ian Bailey has already been convicted in a French court, but did he do it?
We talked about the case at our first news conference of the week on Tuesday. Half an hour later we were still talking so perhaps it’s no surprise that it finishes the week as the subject of today’s lead story by Maeve Sheehan. When journalists find a story endlessly fascinating, even after all these years, it generally means that most readers are in the same space. Well, we hope so at least.
You may have already watched the compelling new documentary series on the Sophie case directed by Jim Sheridan, Murder at the Cottage. It features an excellent contribution from journalist Ralph Riegel, who first encountered Bailey 24 years ago. Ralph recalls that conversation on page 10, which also includes an interview by Ali Bracken with Sophie’s uncle, Jean Pierre Gazeau. Ralph writes that Bailey — just months after the murder — batted away his questions about what happened that night and was more interested in finding out whether the Sunday Independent might be interested in his photojournalism.
If you haven’t seen the Sheridan series then it comes strongly recommended by Donal Lynch on page 17 of the People & Culture section. On page 26 of this section, Declan Lynch has no truck with the critics who have complained that, in telling the story, Sheridan has placed himself at the centre of the drama. “Tell that to Orwell, to Hemingway, to Norman Mailer,” he writes.
I have written here before that Maureen Gaffney has the ability to lucidly explain how the pandemic has changed our perspectives on life, sometimes in ways we have yet to properly comprehend. Such insights are rarely written with the kind of light touch that is so characteristic of Maureen’s writing. Her latest contribution is on page 24 and I warmly recommend it.
The further reopening of the country might still be clouded in uncertainty but even if we have to wait for indoor dining the Irish summer offers plenty more by way of enjoyable experiences, not least the thrill of live performances. If you need a few ideas then turn to the cover story in People & Culture for a raft of them. Enjoy the paper.