A Series of Unfortunate Events: 3 and 4

I figured I would continue with this series since I’m on a roll! The Wide Window is the last book I read in the series the first time around, and I don’t like it is much as the other two, probably because it’s hard to like the Baudelaires’ phobic grammarian Aunt Josephine. The fatal Lachrymose Leeches are a creative twist, though.

I moved on to The Miserable Mill. Lemony Snicket devotes the first three pages to explaining why the first sentence (“The Baudelaire orphans looked out the grimy window of the train and gazed at the gloomy blackness of the Finite Forest, wondering if their lives would ever get any better.) is a good indication that the book will indeed be an unhappy one. Let it never be said that this series suffers from false advertising. After their banker Mr. Poe drops them off at the factory their new temporary caretaker owns, they are forced to work long hours and live in the barren barracks. And Klaus suffers from hypnosis. [Which made me think of something when I was reading this that I now can’t remember. I think it was that I recently watched something involving hypnosis.]

This is the first book where you get a sense of a sinister larger picture, in that the eye from Olaf’s tattoo is also present in a few places around town. The movie of the first three books also hinted at this. I’m intrigued to know were this is going.

I don’t think I mentioned before the author’s penchant for big words, which he then explains. It’s especially funny when his definition is based on context rather than denotation. Here are a few for example:

  • “…so far each home had been a catastrophe, a word which here means ‘an utter disaster involving tragedy, deception, and Count Olaf.'”
  • “‘…we could do a forgery,’ Klaus said, using a word which here means ‘write something yourself and pretend that someone else wrote it.'”
  • “… Count Olaf and his nefarious assistants–the word ‘nefarious’ here means ‘Baudelaire-hating’…”
  • “…his voice faking–a word which here means ‘feigning’–kindness.”

Even though Count Olaf has so far always managed to escape, the books end on a slightly upbeat note because the orphans realize that they still have each other, and things could always be worse. Nevertheless, I think I need to take a short break from the series. Despite having grown up with Roald Dahl I’m in the mood for something a bit sunnier for now.

Published in: on July 27, 2012 at 6:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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