The Wide Window (#3) by Lemony Snicket

Published: February 25th 2000
Goodreads badgePublisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 214
Format: Book
Genre: Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Dear Reader,

If you have not read anything about the Baudelaire orphans, then before you read even one more sentence, you should know this: Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are kindhearted and quick-witted, but their lives, I am sorry to say, are filled with bad luck and misery. All of the stories about these three children are unhappy and wretched, and this one may be the worst of them all.If you haven’t got the stomach for a story that includes a hurricane, a signalling device, hungry leeches, cold cucumber soup, a horrible villain, and a doll named Pretty Penny, then this book will probably fill you with despair.I will continue to record these tragic tales, for that is what I do. You, however, should decide for yourself whether you can possibly endure this miserable story.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

Book three of Unfortunate Events begins much the same way as we are introduced to guardian number three, Aunt Josephine. She is a dull sort of woman, scared of everything and has an unstable living arrangement. This book was a bit more interesting than because there was a longer focus on the time with Josephine than previous guardians. It is more action packed I guess, there is almost a sense of ‘will she survive? Won’t she survive?’ except that Snicket tells us she won’t, again quite often. but it does have its moments of suspense and what will happen. So in that sense it was a good book for that, as a character Josephine is annoying but what can you do. There is a great plus side, there is a reference to the movie Flying High in there which made me laugh. I’m sure it must be intentional, if not it is a pretty big coincidence.

New plan. Instead of this annoying and insipid trend of Grammar Nazi’s roaming the internet we start calling them Aunt Josephine. If you’ve ever come across a person who corrects everything you say because to them you are saying it grammatically wrong then you know Aunt Josephine. And as annoying it is to hear, it is tiring to read, but not so bad if you put it down to an eccentric character trait among her many others.

What I have discovered about A Series of Unfortunate Events, is that they are all rather similar. The children get a new home and guardian, Olaf comes in at some point disguised, the children recognise him, the adults don’t believe them, guardian vanishes, Olaf is exposed, the surviving adults apologise for not believing the kids and the whole things starts again. What I am discovering about these books as an adult reading these books fit for twelve year olds, is that there is nothing to figure out. You are told straight away that unfortunate things will happen to these kids, and Snicket is not shy about using violence and threats and describing them in a blunt and matter of fact manner which acts to almost subdue the serious violence and issues they actually are. And this I am assuming will go on for the remaining ten books in an ongoing cycle.

What I think all we are supposed to take from this is just how unfortunate these kids are and we just have to go for the ride with them as more unfortunate events happen to them and to those around them. There is no mystery, no ulterior meaning. Snicket just says ‘They won’t live happily ever after, they will be threatened and have horrible things happen to those around them, they’ll be fine and not be affected so let’s pop on over to the next person and see what misfortune befalls them’. It’s sort of like a sadistic humorous story that brings out kids fascination with death and violence and evil people in a nice funny and calming and charming way. Oh Mr Snicket you are sneaky.

What is also good is that there is a love of books in this series. The three children are always looking through books and they always find a large library collection wherever they go. I did learn something about Alexander the Great and Gordium knots so that was nice. I’m beginning to think, even though these kids only seem to stay at their new homes for a matter of days or weeks at best that by the end Violet will be of age and at the end of book thirteen she’ll just buy a house for her siblings. Let’s see how we go with that prediction.

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