Thursday, October 31, 2019

A Journey of Beauty and Love

The Bridge of Little Jeremy 

"In the epoch of Lutetia, there used to be a wooden bridge there, the only bridge that connected the Roman quarters on the Left Bank to their administrative offices on the Ile de la Cite. That bridge has been replaced several times since, but, among the dozen bridges that ornate the two isles today, the Petit Pont has always been my favorite, and I've never attempted to paint it yet." (p 52)

This is the story of a boy and his dog. But it is much more than a simple tale like that, for as the narrative grows the reader finds himself on a journey of discovery with Little Jeremy. It turns out to be a variation on the mythical journey of a hero and as it develops the sometimes dreamlike quality of the story draws the reader forward with the intensity of a mystery, the bounteous beauty of Paris, the suspense of unexpected events, and a joyousness that can only be found in the love of a boy for his mother.

The setting is Paris which underlies the beauty of the story - a beauty that is enhanced by young Jeremy, who even at his age has the budding eye of an artist:
"I see the sinuous streets and the steep staircases of Montmartre that I haven't seen for a long while, and then I see how the works of Nature and Man have come together to sculpt the beauty of our city."(p 136)

Not only is the beauty of the setting framed by the eyes of young Jeremy but the narrator limns the setting with descriptions like that of the "Jardin-des-Plantes" where Leon, Jeremy's trusted and loving dog, is seen chasing butterflies. As the story develops the intricacies of the city and its spaces add to the mysteriousness of Jeremy's journey.

Little Jeremy narrates the story, and we learn he has a  medical condition - a weakness of his heart due to a faulty valve. As a result he does not attend school and often spends his days scouring the city with Leon. His encounters with the city and the world beyond his small apartment during the arc of the story are both interesting and exciting - he becomes a hero for a time. His mother, unfortunately faces a serious financial debt due to taxes. Ultimately, Little Jeremy's desire to help his mother leads him to a discovery that with the application of his artistic skills and help from some friends may provide the funds that are essential for their survival as a family.

It is the innocence and loving nature of Little Jeremy contrasted with the realities and difficulties of living that makes this a mesmerizing story. There is great suspense leading to a denouement that demonstrates the magic of the search for an ideal. That combined with the importance of love for those that are close to you and a need to nurture the genius within you makes this a wonderful novel.


Brian Joseph said...

Great commentary James. This sounds original in some ways but also like it has some things that are familiar. Paris seems like the perfect setting for this story.

James said...

Thanks for your observation. Paris is important for the story and the beauty of the setting underlies the dream-like quality of young Jeremy's journey.