Audiobook: ‘An Officer and a Spy’

Before listening to An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris, I knew only the broad outline of the Dreyfus Affair, a political scandal filled with blatant antisemitism that divided France from from 1894 until 1906. The twists and turns during this 12-year period are amazing and exciting. It is sometimes hard to believe this all really happened. Émile Zola’s 1898 open letter to the President of France accusing the French government of antisemitism was both courageous and dramatic.

Robert Harris’s writing is superb and based upon through research. The book has a lot of detail which added to my enjoyment. As a result of this detail, I felt as though I was actually in France.

I enjoyed learning about an important chapter of French history filled with intrigue. The ending is amazing and left me wanting more, despite the length of the audiobook (a little over 16 hours).

The audiobook is narrated by David Rintoul, an accomplished Scottish actor. His intonation and pronunciation are exceptional and added greatly to my enjoyment of the audiobook.

How many more of these beautiful days will remain?

Peter Turnley writing on Instagram:

Recently, at my mothers’ funeral, a man spoke about the approximate number of days she had lived-until 94, something close to 34,000. ⁣

This thought penetrated me deeply and profoundly and has stayed with me. ⁣

⁣Over coffee this morning on a beautiful Paris morning-it occurred to me to ask myself, how many more of these beautiful days will remain. I didn’t think of this in a sad way-on the contrary-I contemplated that what seems important is to try to live each day left, with each café, as an opportunity, to make some form of a difference, in any way, and to be grateful, for every new morning light that illuminates life with opportunity. ⁣

⁣With love from Paris.⁣

Peter Turnley

Even a long life is brief.

North Macedonia Hopes to Join EU and NATO

North Macedonia is a country of 2.1 million people in Southeast Europe. It declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 and was recognized by the United Nations in 1993.

This small country changed its name from Macedonia in 2019 to resolve a dispute with Greece in the hope of joining the European Union. North Macedonia signed an accession protocol to become a NATO member state in February 2019.

The break up of Tito’s Yugoslavia is still being felt.

Movie Review: ‘Ida’

Anna, a young woman training to be a nun in 1960s Poland is on the verge of taking her vows when she meets her only living relative for the first time and learns that she is Jewish and that her real name is Ida Lebenstein. Together they discover what happened to Anna/Ida’s family.

This jewel is only 82 minutes long and every moment makes good use of the viewer’s time. The story is one example of the decimation of Poland’s Jews during World War II. But in the end, this is not a film about Poland or the Holocaust – but about life.

The film is entirely in black and white. The places photographed are ordinary yet the cinematography is stunning. Each scene looks like a black and white photograph made by a Magnum photographer using a Leica camera. Ida (pictured above) is played by Agata Trzebuchowska. Her character is sweet, innocent and beautiful. Her aunt Wanda – Agata Kulesza – is a superb actress. The language is Polish with English subtitles.

Pawel Pawlikowski directed the film. He was born in Warsaw in 1957. At the age of 14, Pawlikowski left Poland to live in Germany and Italy, before settling in Britain. In 2004,he directed My Summer of Love with Emily Blunt and Natalie Press.

This film touched me deeply and left me thinking for a long time about what’s important and what’s not. It’s among the best films I have seen.

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Thoughts on Blogging

Over the years I’ve blogged on and off on various platforms including Blogger, Squarespace, WordPress, Ghost, Micro.blog and Blot.

I think I have focused too much on the platform and not nearly enough on the content and my reason for blogging.

I’ve benefited greatly by reading blogs. Through blogs, I’ve discovered great TV series, books, movies and podcasts. I’ve also kept up with technology and photography by reading blogs.

Every blogging platform has pluses and minuses. I need to stop comparing platforms and just write. I settled on WordPress because WordPress makes it easy to create and edit posts from anywhere. I find the WordPress iOS app useful and convenient. Having said that, all the blogging platforms get the job done. And that’s what counts.

I want to contribute in the hope that my experiences will help others as others have helped me.

Movie Review: ‘The Intern’

I rented The Intern (2015) on iTunes and loved it.

Robert De Niro plays a healthy but lonely 70-year-old retired widower named Ben Whittaker. Ben worked as an accomplished executive who ran a company selling telephone books. Ben wants to connect and be useful to other people. He starts by going to Starbucks each day but that doesn’t get him the human interaction he craves. One day, Ben sees an ad from an online women’s clothing vendor seeking to hire “senior interns.” The firm is loosely based on Google. Ben applies by uploading a video and gets the job. He’s assigned to work directly for the CEO Jules Ostin played by Anne Hathaway. The interaction between the two characters is charming.

The film was written and directed by Nancy Meyers, who also wrote and directed Something’s Gotta Give, a 2003 film starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. That film is about a man (Jack Nicholson) approaching senior citizen status who has a taste for younger women. I also enjoyed that film so I guess I have a taste for Meyers’s work.

Manolhla Dargis, writing for The New York Times explains in magnificent prose that:

The director Nancy Meyers doesn’t just make movies, she makes the kind of lifestyle fantasies you sink into like eiderdown. Her movies are frothy, playful, homogeneous, routinely maddening and generally pretty irresistible even when they’re not all that good. Her most notable visual signature is the immaculate, luxuriously appointed interiors she’s known to fuss over personally — they inevitably feature throw pillows that look as if they’ve been arranged with a measuring tape. These interiors are fetishized by moviegoers and Architectural Digest alike, ready-made for Pinterest and comment threads peppered with questions like, “Where do I get that hat?”

Although I wish I could write the way Ms. Dargis writes, I think the film has something meaningful to say about the way older and younger people can relate to one another in the workplace and elsewhere.

It seems that the film was a hit in South Korea for just this reason (WSJ). South Korean viewers appreciated the healthy and positive energy emanating from Ben, the character ably played by Robert DeNiro. I did too. And besides, what’s wrong with some eiderdown in one’s life

The film has a 60% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.