A Series of Unfortunate Events Books 1-3
By Lemony Snicket
Read (Listened to Dec-Jan 08/09)
Although there are actually 10 books in this series, I couldn’t bring myself to write individual posts on each one, so I’m combining them into groups. Books 1-3 get shoved together because the movie version is based upon these. I will try to do 4-7 together and 8-10. 🙂
I checked the first audio book, The Bad Beginning, from the library because I wanted a quieter car ride and I thought this might hold the kid’s intrest. I was right and they beg for it and plead for me not to turn off the car. I see so many cars with DVD players, but not me, just a cassette player, not even a CD player!! My van is old 😦
I really like the style of the books, though I’m sure some would not. I like the way the author will use a big word or phrase and then say, “in this case ___ meaning ______.” I really enjoy it.I like the dry sense of humor throuhout the books.
I also loved Tim Curry’s voice in the audio version of books 1 and 2. I was disappointed when I turned on book 3 and instead of Tim Curry, we have the voice of Lemony Snicket reading the story. Blah. even my girls noticed the difference.
I did some research and it turns out Lemony Snicket reads the next book, The Miserable Mill, and then we go back to Tim Curry. Woo Hoo!
We also watched the movie. Although some parts are changed around a bit, the movie is pretty clever. It grasps the odd setting of the book. Where it seems to be a combination of modern times and earlier times, about 1920’s-1930’s. Also, according to GoodReads, the book is set in Brazil, though how you are supposed to know the I don’t know….
Overall, both movie and books are good, but I can see where they wouldn’t be for everyone.
~~~~~~Possible Spoilers in My Descriptions Below~~~~~~
The Bad Beginning (Book 1)
This is the first time we hear the unfortunate story of the Baudelaire orphans. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are devastated at the death of both of their parents in a tragic fire. Their family had been quite wealthy and although the children were not spoiled, they enjoyed a comfortable and happy lifestyle. Mr. Poe, a banker and friend of the late Mr. and Mrs. Baudeliare, is in charge of seeing that thier will is carried out and their inheritance is guarded until Violet turns 18. Part of their will included that the children will be sent to live with relatives. As if the loss of their parents wasn’t enough, their nearest relative turns out to be Count Olaf, a man they do not trust as soon as they set their eyes on him.
They soon find out that Count Olaf is as dangerous as they first suspected. He is after one thing, their inheritance, and he will do anything to get it.
He treats the three Baudelaire’s like servants. They share one dusty room with one sad excuse for a mattress. They must cook and clean for him and his troop of actors.
He hatches an evil scheme to ‘trick’ Violet into marrying him so he can get to their inheritance. He orders Violet to act as the bride in the play and convinces his neighbor, a Judge, to act as…a judge. Violet refuses, but Count Olaf has Sunny, the youngest Baudelaire, strung up in a cage by one of his evil gang.
The children manage to get out of this sticky situation and uncover Count Olaf’s plan. Mr. Poe finally realizes that the complaints the children have been making are true. The story leaves us waiting for the next ‘series of unfortunate events’ that will occur to the children.
The Reptile Room (Book 2)
The children are skeptical as they are sent to live with their next relative, Uncle Monty. They figure Uncle Monty couldn’t be any worse than Count Olaf, but they are wary when they find out he is a world-famous herpetoligist, and has a huge collection of reptiles.
Uncle Monty turns out to be a truly wonderful man. The children are, for the first time in a long time, happy. Uncle Monty’s collection of reptiles is amazing and his book collection makes Klaus smile in delight when he sets eyes on it.
They find that Uncle Monty has a trip to Peru planned and decides that the three children must come with him. They begin preparation for their trip. Uncle Monty informs everyone that unfortunately the guide he has hired has disappeared and he was fortunate to find a new guide, Stefano, who will be arriving shortly.
Stefano is a tall bald man with no hair and a thick accent. The children see right through the disguise, Stefano is none other than Count Olaf. Of course, no one believes the children, not even dear Uncle Monty. This is quite unfortunate because soon, Uncle Monty turns up dead. The doctor is summoned along with Mr. Poe and concludes that Uncle Monty was killed by one of his many venemous snakes.
The children don’t see how this could happen. Uncle Monty was so careful. They suspect Stefano/Count Olaf has something to do with this. Mr. Poe is not convinced by the children’s objections. Afterall, the doctor was summoned and confirmed that Uncle Monty had two puncture wounds like a snake bite.
Stefano/Count Olaf tries to get the children alone in a car away from Mr. Poe. The children are trying desperately to figure out a way that they can avoid being left alone with Count Olaf. The children remember his tattoo of an eye on his ankle. Stefano lifts his pant leg and to the children’s dismay, no tattoo. While Sunny and Klaus create a distraction Violet sneaks out and breaks into Stefano’s bag. There she finds hyperdermic needles, a bottle of venom and performance make-up, the kind used to cover tattoos.
With the help of Mr. Poe they uncover Count Olaf and he and the doctor, who was really part of his acting troupe, make a run for it.
The orphans are left, yet again, homeless and unhappy.
The Wide Window (Book 3)
Aunt Josephine is the next guardian the children are sent to live with. She is well-meaning and kind, but mortally fearful of everything. Apart from being annoying, this makes her more like a child than a guardian.
She is afraid of the stove, the radiator, the lake, and most of all realtors. Her house is perched precariously on the edge of a cliff overlooking Lake Lacromoss (by the way, not sure if I spelled that right since I do not have a text version to read from and I can’t be bothered looking it up right now, so you have to deal with my phonetic-best-guess-spelling.) Her husband, Ike, was killed by the Lacromoss Leeches because he entered the water too soon after eating. Smelling the food on him, the devoured him.
Aunt Josephine does have one love, grammar. Klaus is disappointed that the impressive library with the lovely, wide window overlooking the lake, is filled with books only on grammar and Lake Lacromoss. Well, it’s better than nothing. Violet busies herself with trying to create a way to warm things without making Aunt Josephine fearful. Little Sunny finds a bit of joy in biting a doll named Pretty Penny.
One fateful day, the children and Aunt Josephine go shopping to store up before Hurricane Herman hits. There they run in to none other than Count Olaf. The children, not being unobservant like all of the adults around them, recognize Olaf right away. He introduces himself to the family as Captain Sham, a sailboat owner. The children try to point him out to Aunt Josephine, but she dismisses it as nonsense. Afterall, Captain Sham can’t possibly have a tattoo on his left ankle, he had a peg leg from his knee down. He gained points with Aunt Josephine by stating that the Lacromoss Leeches had deprived him of his leg a few years ago.
Soon, as you may have guessed, tradgedy strikes. The children hear a crash and find the wide window of the library broken and a suicide note left by Aunt Josephine, willing the children to the care of Captain Sham. The children see this as the fraud it is, but of course Mr. Poe when he arrives will hear nothing of the matter.
Klaus finds a series of grammatical errors in Aunt Josephine’s note and see that she has left them a secret code. She is hiding at Curdled Cave. The children steal a sailboat and set off to find her. When they eventually do, Aunt Josephine is alive and well, but refuses to leave the cave. Klaus informs her that the cave is for sale and soon a group of realtors will diverge upon the place. This is the leverage needed to get Aunt Josephine into the boat.
As they enter the territory of the Lacromoss Leeches, Aunt Josephine remembers in terror that she recenly had a banana. The leeches begin to attack and the children work together to signal someone from shore to come to their rescue.
Someone comes, but as I’m sure you’ve figured out, that someone was Captain Sham/Count Olaf. He promptly throws Aunt Josephine to the leeches and heads back to shore.
As he tries to cover up his treachery to Mr. Poe, Sunny uses those four sharp teeth to bite and the wood of the peg leg of Captain Sham. Out pops Count Olaf’s tattooed ankle. Mr. Poe tries to chase him down, stating that he is under arrest for such things as, murder, child endangerment, and fraud among other things. Count Olaf adds, “and arson.”
Neither of my children nor anyone in the story seems to catch this bit….but I have a feeling I know where this is going. Captain Sham escapes. Mr. Poe is forced to find the orphans a new home. The orphans are left where they started, alone, and yet together.
Theme: The Baudelaire children are orphaned when their parents die in a mysterious fire. They are sent to live with Count Olaf, who turns out to be a horrible man who is only after their fortune. Once taken away from Count Olaf, they are sent to live with multiple relatives, which always ends badly.
Setting: Odd. I saw it described somewhere as Modern Gothic, and I think it fits. Some things are modern, while somethings are very old-fashioned, and it all seems to be smushed together.
Characters: Violet Baudelaire, Klaus Baudelaire, Sunny Baudelaire, Mr. Poe, Count Olaf, Uncle Monty (aka Montgomery Montgomery), Aunt Josephine.
Themes: death, child endangerment, child abuse, peril, overcoming hardships, being a strong family.