The Bridge of Little Jeremy by Indrajit Garai


Tony’s description, “A boy and his dog along the banks of the Seine in Paris,” sounded good, though he did mention that one should not underrate “the merely pleasant.” I know nothing of the author, except that he was born in India and lived in France and wrote in French for a time. This is a self-published book.

The story is told by a 12-year old boy just recovered from heart surgery who lives with his impoverished mother on Île Saint Louis who walks all over Paris with his dog. It was appealing to travel along with them as they visited a painter who had a stall along the river and a man who worked at the zoo in the Jardin-des-Plantes. Jeremy, it turns out, is remarkably talented in several ways. The first of those talents we discover is that his paintings are sold in Paolo’s stall for hundreds of euros. This is not enough to pay the recently discovered inheritance tax owed on their apartment. His mother was under threat of prison, as well as being turned out on the street. Jeremy works hard to resolve this problem.

One plan involves restoring a painting Jeremy finds hidden in their basement; he uncovers stories of ancestors, and walks throughout the city with Leon his dog to find traces of them. Another scheme involves him joining a campaign on social media to eliminate the inheritance tax as if that were a matter of social justice for the poor. That view of the inheritance tax was the most surprising concept for me in a book that had many unusual events. Getting involved with social media, new for Jeremy, does not work well, and he wearies of it after some days of receiving hundreds of messages. He says, “Is it possible that the more your virtual world grows, the more your real world shrinks?”

Jeremy becomes famous in the city when he breaks into a car with a rock to save a baby. That led to an  international dispute about who should do Jeremy’s second heart operation. Meanwhile Jeremy is working hard to restore the painting. I grew weary of the back and forth Jeremy had with himself about how and when and whether to tell his mother about the painting which belonged to her. And the book ends as oddly as it proceeded.

I did love following along on a map as Jeremy and Leon walked throughout the city and there were the lovely descriptions, especially of Île Saint Louis.

I see the paved streets of the Île Saint Louis under the night lamps. I see the tip of our isle advancing through the changing water of the Seine. I see the bell towers of the Notre Dame, the apex of the Eiffel Tower, and the dome of the Pantheon. I see them above the fog or morning, under the haze of afternoon, and behind the mist of evening. Then I see them against the moonlit sky painted in a milky hue by the scattered dews.

Indrajit Garai, The Bridge of Little Jeremy, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2019, 368 pages. Available from Amazon.

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