I’ve been at home, my family’s home, on my Easter break and I’ve been going through my bookshelf. I even counted how many I own ( 236, if you are wondering) and whilst doing this I found some books that I used to love between the ages of 8-13.
Some background history: My year 5 classroom invested in a bookshelf of mostly modern books, all of which were brand new, to encourage reading in the year group. My little self was in heaven and that was the first time I read The Hobbit and The Bad Beginning, the first in a series of books by Lemony Snicket. I read a number of other books but I distinctly remember these two being the most memorable.
However, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events became the class favourite which we all began fighting over. I was kind of quick reader and got to book number 4 in no time but the kid in possession of book number 4 was not a quick reader. I waited patiently for what felt like ages in the world of a 9 year old. I eventually became impatient and turned to the local library to finish the series. In the next few years I read this series between my school, library and my family buying me a few of the books.
I can’t ever say what it was that hooked my primary school class onto the these books was it the adventure, the sardonic humour, the mystery or all of the above. Who knows but what I do know is Lemony Snicket was one of my favourite childhood authors. (Alongside JK, Jaqueline Wilson and Jeremy Strong)
Once I finished this series, I would occasionally return to some of my select favourites for nostaligic reasons. Around the age of 13 one of my sisters bought me another Lemony Snicket book, one that wasn’t part of the Unforunate Series, so naturally I was intrigued. Horseradish by Lemony Snicket was comedy gold to me at that age, full of angst, sarcasm and cynicism. Still to this day, there are quotes in this book that I adore. I’ll talk more about this book shortly, after I recap on A Series Of Unfortunate Events.
A Series Of Unfortunate Events contains 13 books which tell the story of the Baudelaire orphans and began publishing in 1999. There are also some spin off books of the series. The author of this series: Lemony Snicket is a pen name for the author Daniel Handler, as I was disappointed to find out. For a long time in my life, I was convinced these books were real and so was the author. ( In my defence I was young )
Books 1 – 3: can be bought separately or as a box set called The Trouble Begins. Separately they can retail between £2.00-4.00 but at the time of publication they retailed for £6.99. Whilst the box set retails at around £19.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong.” – The Bad Beginning
The first 3 books in this series follow Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire through their bad beginning, becoming orphans, to the sad demise of their two carers in The Reptile Room and The Wide Window ( one of my absolute favourites).
Books 4 – 6: can also be bought separately or as a box set – The Situation Worsens. The singles retail at the same price as above and the box set retails at around £26.
The journey of the Baudelaire orphans continues with The Miserable Mill ( one of my least favourites, I found it so dull). Then further on in The Austere Academy and the horrible Carmelita Spats. I enjoyed the 5th book and it’s cultural references ( Nero and Coach Genghis)
The final book in this box is ‘Book the Sixth’ The Eratz Elevator a book that parodies the socialites that focus on the trends of what’s ‘in’ and ‘out’ regardless of how practical, or unpractical I should say, the trend is.
“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.” – The Eratz Elevator
The Dilemma Deepens is the box set which includes books 7 – 9. The Vile Village is somewhat different from the other books in the series. Rather than being entrusted into the care of a single guardian, the Baudelaires are entrusted into the care of an entire village. Throughout the adventures in this book, the journey of these 3 unfortunate children takes a surprising turn. The Baudelaires become criminals, thereby giving Count Olaf more leeway to become even more villainous. I remember loving the brain work involved in this book and always wanting to be as clever as Klaus.
Book the Eighth is The Hostile Hospital, not one of my most liked books in this series. It took too long to get into and confused me a lot but now I’m older I may give this book another go.
“There are almost as many kinds of libraries as there are kinds of readers.” – The Carnivorous Carnival
This book, book the Ninth, I loved. There was a carnival, celebration of different types of people – being ambidextrous was a skill I wanted so badly!
We are coming toward the end of A Series of Unfortunate Events with The Gloom Looms which includes books 10 – 12. This is one of the more expensive box sets, retailing at £28.
Book 10, The Slippery Slope delves further into the mystery of ” VFD”, an organisation which crops up throughout the story of the Baudelaires but in every book thus far the reader has been given numerous red herrings on what VFD actually is. It is, finally, in book 10 we begin to learn more about VFD.
The Grim Grotto is Book 11 and my least favourite book. I can’t explain why I dislike this book so much but I do. In hindsight it does foreshadow what is to come later in the story but when I first read this book. It bored me to no end and I felt it spent too much time filling out the story than adding much new.
“Of course, it is boring to read about boring thing, but it is better to read something that makes you yawn with boredom than something that will make you weep uncontrollably, pound your fists against the floor, and leave tearstains all over your pillowcase, sheets, and boomerang collection.” – The Grim Grotto
Book 12, the penultimate book is called The Penultimate Peril ( How very clever). The reader is revisited by many characters from previous books: Carmelita Spats, Charles and Sir and Vice Principal Nero. Such a reunion is here to tie loose ends together as the story draws to a close. As typical with the Baudelaires, tragedy ensues and we, the reader, are left on a cliffhanger.
And here we are, book the thirteenth, The End. This was not published as part of a set, for reasons that I do not know but I do love this book. I hate endings but I often love the books that depict those endings.
Many parts of the series come full circle in this book. Even the title of the series is referenced in The End and more is learnt about the Baudelaire parents. We also read the demise of Count Olaf albeit in a somewhat heroic way for a man so terrible.
What is most annoying about this book is that we, the reader, never truly know what happens to the Baudelaires: did they live? Or did they perish at sea? But should they have perished at least, for some time, the Baudelaires found a home.
I could spend much of my time discussing the way the author writes, the cultural references and the incredible metaphors dotted throughout this work but I do not have the leisure of such an amount of time. What I will discuss further about A Series of Unfortunate Events is the last word. The last word of this book is a word repeated many times in this series and no it is not unfortunate, Baudelaire or Olaf but a word that opens every book: Beatrice.
Whilst Beatrice is important to Snicket, it is not the word that is important to me. A word that appeared in The End that is important to me is Horseradish.
Horseradish is the cure for Medusoid Mycelium but that is not why it is important to me. Horseradish was published in 2007 and is a book filled with
Bitter Truths [about life ] You Can’t Avoid
Apart from categorisation there is little structure to this book. It’s a compilation of quotes, bitter truths, about life that you, the reader, cannot avoid.
Sadly, Beatrice sees no dedication in this novel. What an end of an era.
Some of these bitter truths are downright ludicrous but others hilarious, at least hilarious to me.
Let me show you some examples:
After discussing Lemony Snicket, I feel I may have to go watch the movie now. This may change Movie Monday’s plans. But let us finish Sunday Book Club with this final truth from Snicket, categorised under “Affairs of the Heart”