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A Series of Unfortunate Events #3: The Wide Window

A Series of Unfortunate Events #3: The Wide Window

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A Series of Unfortunate Events #3: The Wide Window

4/5 (196 ratings)
148 pages
2 hours
Oct 13, 2009



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

Oct 13, 2009

About the author

Lemony Snicket had an unusual education which may or may not explain his ability to evade capture. He is the author of the 13 volumes in A Series of Unfortunate Events, several picture books including The Dark, and the books collectively titled All The Wrong Questions.

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A Series of Unfortunate Events #3 - Lemony Snicket


For Beatrice—

I would much prefer it if you were alive and well.



Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

To My Kind Editor

Excerpt from A Series of Unfortunate Events #4: The Miserable Mill

About the Author and Illustrator

Books by Lemony Snicket



About the Publisher



If you didn’t know much about the Baudelaire orphans, and you saw them sitting on their suitcases at Damocles Dock, you might think that they were bound for an exciting adventure. After all, the three children had just disembarked from the Fickle Ferry, which had driven them across Lake Lachrymose to live with their Aunt Josephine, and in most cases such a situation would lead to thrillingly good times.

But of course you would be dead wrong. For although Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire were about to experience events that would be both exciting and memorable, they would not be exciting and memorable like having your fortune told or going to a rodeo. Their adventure would be exciting and memorable like being chased by a werewolf through a field of thorny bushes at midnight with nobody around to help you. If you are interested in reading a story filled with thrillingly good times, I am sorry to inform you that you are most certainly reading the wrong book, because the Baudelaires experience very few good times over the course of their gloomy and miserable lives. It is a terrible thing, their misfortune, so terrible that I can scarcely bring myself to write about it. So if you do not want to read a story of tragedy and sadness, this is your very last chance to put this book down, because the misery of the Baudelaire orphans begins in the very next paragraph.

Look what I have for you, Mr. Poe said, grinning from ear to ear and holding out a small paper bag. Peppermints! Mr. Poe was a banker who had been placed in charge of handling the affairs of the Baudelaire orphans after their parents died. Mr. Poe was kindhearted, but it is not enough in this world to be kindhearted, particularly if you are responsible for keeping children out of danger. Mr. Poe had known the three children since they were born, and could never remember that they were allergic to peppermints.

Thank you, Mr. Poe, Violet said, and took the paper bag and peered inside. Like most fourteen-year-olds, Violet was too well mannered to mention that if she ate a peppermint she would break out in hives, a phrase which here means be covered in red, itchy rashes for a few hours. Besides, she was too occupied with inventing thoughts to pay much attention to Mr. Poe. Anyone who knew Violet would know that when her hair was tied up in a ribbon to keep it out of her eyes, the way it was now, her thoughts were filled with wheels, gears, levers, and other necessary things for inventions. At this particular moment she was thinking of how she could improve the engine of the Fickle Ferry so it wouldn’t belch smoke into the gray sky.

That’s very kind of you, said Klaus, the middle Baudelaire child, smiling at Mr. Poe and thinking that if he had even one lick of a peppermint, his tongue would swell up and he would scarcely be able to speak. Klaus took his glasses off and wished that Mr. Poe had bought him a book or a newspaper instead. Klaus was a voracious reader, and when he had learned about his allergy at a birthday party when he was eight, he had immediately read all his parents’ books about allergies. Even four years later he could recite the chemical formulas that caused his tongue to swell up.

Toi! Sunny shrieked. The youngest Baudelaire was only an infant, and like many infants, she spoke mostly in words that were tricky to understand. By Toi! she probably meant I have never eaten a peppermint because I suspect that I, like my siblings, am allergic to them, but it was hard to tell. She may also have meant I wish I could bite a peppermint, because I like to bite things with my four sharp teeth, but I don’t want to risk an allergic reaction.

You can eat them on your cab ride to Mrs. Anwhistle’s house, Mr. Poe said, coughing into his white handkerchief. Mr. Poe always seemed to have a cold and the Baudelaire orphans were accustomed to receiving information from him between bouts of hacking and wheezing. She apologizes for not meeting you at the dock, but she says she’s frightened of it.

Why would she be frightened of a dock? Klaus asked, looking around at the wooden piers and sailboats.

She’s frightened of anything to do with Lake Lachrymose, Mr. Poe said, but she didn’t say why. Perhaps it has to do with her husband’s death. Your Aunt Josephine—she’s not really your aunt, of course; she’s your second cousin’s sister-in-law, but asked that you call her Aunt Josephine—your Aunt Josephine lost her husband recently, and it may be possible that he drowned or died in a boat accident. It didn’t seem polite to ask how she became a dowager. Well, let’s put you in a taxi.

What does that word mean? Violet asked.

Mr. Poe looked at Violet and raised his eyebrows. I’m surprised at you, Violet, he said. A girl of your age should know that a taxi is a car which will drive you someplace for a fee. Now, let’s gather your luggage and walk to the curb.

‘Dowager,’ Klaus whispered to Violet, is a fancy word for ‘widow.’

Thank you, she whispered back, picking up her suitcase in one hand and Sunny in the other. Mr. Poe was waving his handkerchief in the air to signal a taxi to stop, and in no time at all the cabdriver piled all of the Baudelaire suitcases into the trunk and Mr. Poe piled the Baudelaire children into the back seat.

I will say good-bye to you here, Mr. Poe said. The banking day has already begun, and I’m afraid if I go with you out to Aunt Josephine’s I will never get anything done. Please give her my best wishes, and tell her that I will keep in touch regularly. Mr. Poe paused for a moment to cough into his handkerchief before continuing. "Now, your Aunt Josephine is a bit nervous about having three children in her house, but I assured her that you three were very well behaved. Make sure you mind your manners, and, as always, you can call or fax me at the bank if there’s any sort of problem. Although I don’t imagine anything will go wrong this time."

When Mr. Poe said "this time, he looked at the children meaningfully as if it were their fault that poor Uncle Monty was dead. But the Baudelaires were too nervous about meeting their new caretaker to say anything more to Mr. Poe except So long."

So long, Violet said, putting the bag of peppermints in her pocket.

So long, Klaus said, taking one last look at Damocles Dock.

Frul! Sunny shrieked, chewing on her seat belt buckle.

So long, Mr. Poe replied, and good luck to you. I will think of the Baudelaires as often as I can.

Mr. Poe gave some money to the taxi driver and waved good-bye to the three children as the cab pulled away from the dock and onto a gray, cobblestoned street. There was a small grocery store with barrels of limes and beets out front. There was a clothing store called Look! It Fits!, which appeared to be undergoing renovations. There was a terrible-looking restaurant called the Anxious Clown, with neon lights and balloons in the window. But mostly, there were many stores and shops that were all closed up, with boards or metal gratings over the windows and doors.

The town doesn’t seem very crowded, Klaus remarked. I was hoping we might make some new friends here.

It’s the off-season, the cabdriver said. He was a skinny man with a skinny cigarette hanging out of his mouth, and as he talked to the children he looked at them through the rearview mirror. The town of Lake Lachrymose is a resort, and when the nice weather comes it’s as crowded as can be. But around now, things here are as dead as the cat I ran over this morning. To make new friends, you’ll have to wait until the weather gets a little better. Speaking of which, Hurricane Herman is expected to arrive in town in a week or so. You better make sure you have enough food up there in the house.

A hurricane on a lake? Klaus asked. I thought hurricanes only occurred near the ocean.

A body of water as big as Lake Lachrymose, the driver said, can have anything occur on it. To tell you the truth, I’d be a little nervous about living on top of this hill. Once the storm hits, it’ll be very difficult to drive all the way down into town.

Violet, Klaus, and Sunny looked out the window and saw what the driver meant by all the way down. The taxi had turned one last corner and arrived at the scraggly top of a tall, tall hill, and the children could see the town far, far below them, the cobblestone road curling around the buildings like a tiny gray snake, and the small square of Damocles Dock with specks of people bustling around it. And out beyond the dock was the inky blob of Lake Lachrymose, huge and dark as if a monster were standing over the three orphans, casting a giant shadow below them. For a few moments the children stared into the lake as if hypnotized by this enormous stain on the landscape.

The lake is so enormous, Klaus said, and it looks so deep. I can almost understand why Aunt Josephine is afraid of it.

The lady who lives up here, the cabdriver

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What people think about A Series of Unfortunate Events #3

196 ratings / 62 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    I think this one was better than the first two
  • (4/5)
    These books are quick and quirky! I enjoy all the underlying things in this series!
    Sadly the children don't find a home and the count is still after them, of course Poe doesn't believe them and treats them as though they know nothing. Their "aunt" is so involved with her fears she doesn't take care of the children properly. It's a shame. Off to the next book to see how horrible things go
  • (3/5)
    Out of the three books I have read in the series this was my least favorite of them. It isn't a bad story, but when you are reading them more quickly than they were originally published you get a little worn out of the fact no one is listening to these children and that people cannot see through rather simplistic disguises. Also this felt like it suffered a bit from middle-bookitis as I call it, which is an author of a series throwing anything and everything together for a plot that is somewhere in the middle of a series. Often this ends up with a plot that just doesn't feel like a truly interesting and well-thought out book. I am hoping that in the subsequent books we get less carting off to a family member and some engaging underlying plot of the entire series instead of one book off stories. This will provide a reason to continue on into the other ten books of the series, otherwise I may unfortunately end my time with this series of events.
  • (5/5)
    After their last misadventure, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are sent to live with their aunt Josephine, a woman with many irrational fears and a house perched on the edge of a cliff. The trio of siblings do their best to make a lovely new home, but the threat of Count Olaf is never far...This series continues to please with over-the-top characters and scenarios accompanied by a salty brand of humor. You'll be rooting for the Baudelaires, especially as they start to put together pieces about their parents' past.
  • (4/5)
  • (4/5)
    The Baudelaire kids are desperate for just one happy thing in their life, which is their real family back, and not having to deal with a nasty horrible man name Count Olaf. Count Olaf is desperately trying to steal the Baudelaire fortune that their parents had left to them before they had died. These children are Violet, Klause, and Sunny. Violet is the oldest of the orphans and loves to invent new objects. Klause is the middle child and loves to read. And the youngest of the orphans is Sunny, she loves to bite hard objects with her nail sharp teeth. These orphans are sent to three long lost relatives that were in the family. First was Count Olaf and he was terrible and tried to marry Violet, Next was Uncle Montgomery and he was killed by Count Olaf, and the last relative that they had stayed with was Aunt Josephine who was also killed by Count Olaf. But before all of this happened they were sent to their Aunt. Her name was Aunt Josephine. She was scared of everything that occurred. Her house was the top of the hill and they had found out that a hurricane Herman was coming to their town. Well, Count Olaf dresses up to become Captain Sham. Aunt Josephine gets comfortable with Captain Sham. But, eventually he tricks, forcing her to write a note. She then fleas to a cave, which is called Curdled Cave. She leaves the Baudelaire's with a suicide note and leaves a clue of where she is at. Eventually Captain Sham is caught by Mr. Poe and eventually runs away.My opinion about this book is incredible. Lemony Snicket really gets to a point in the book really fast. He does not just tell you what is going to go on in the last chapter, or who dies, and who escapes but he also gives slight hints of who is who, such as Count Olaf was dressed up to become Captain Sham. Lemony Snicket gave specific details on that. This is what I really enjoy about this book. My favorite book that occurred in the Wide Window was when Violet and the rest of her siblings are trying to find their relative, once they find out that their relative doesn't even care about them. This is a very sad part, because Violet, Klause, and Sunny all tried very hard just to try and get her, but for nothing.
  • (4/5)
    This is another funny tale from Lemony Snicket, which some may find repetitive, but I think that children love stories where they can predict what will happen. The prose is as delightful and witty as ever.
  • (4/5)
    As with the first two books in this series (A Series of Unfortunate Events), book three repeats the theme of doom and gloom. These books, thus far, are quite formulaic and offer no real adventure for the adult reader; however, my elementary students appear to enjoy them very much.

    The three orphaned children, Violet, Klaus and Sunny, are again shipped off to some obscure familial relation to be "cared for" as guardian. These adults are flawed by their own demons and fail to truly do what is best for the children. Count Olaf, the 'evil villain', continues to crop up in an effort to steal the children's fortune in any manner possible. He doesn't even mind killing those who are only guilty of being named the children's guardian.

    Not my cup of tea, but a bet is a bet. Err, challenge.
  • (4/5)
    I've already expressed my dissatisfaction with Lemony Snicket as audio book narrator, but the book itself was fine. They're getting a little formulaic, but you have to learn to lower your expectations when you're reading books meant for children. And even I learned something from the little grammar, vocabulary, and history tidbits woven into the story.
  • (5/5)
    The Baudelaire orphans (Sunny, Violet and Klaus) have been moved to a new caretaker, Aunt Josephine. Their aunt is scared of many things, like turning the hob on, touching the radiator or twisting a doorknob - anything so simple like that. Since she lost her dear husband Ike in Lake Lachrymose, she will now never go even on its sandy shores.

    When the children once again meet cruel, horrible Count Olaf, how will they survive this terrible adventure without getting into his care? Everybody knows that the only thing evil Olaf is after is the Baudelaire fortune, but his future hope might not come true...

    This book is amazing, but I have to say, I rate it for eight to fifteen year olds. It is astonishing, especially the funny and intelligent way it is written.
  • (3/5)
    Let's just say that this is where the Baudelaire brothers' story starts to get annoying and repetitive. In this book they'll be under the guard of an old aunt that is very nice, but is extremely fearful. And I meant fearful like... she is afraid of touching doorknobs because they might break in hundred pieces and hurt someone. And if that wasn't bad enough, they meet Count Olaf once again, this time under the disguise of a boat renter.

    Lemony Snicket's writing style is very pleasant to read and, like the two previous books, this one is very fast paced. The problem is that what you'll read here is just more of the same characters. They just won't mature in any sort of way, and I think that the fact that the Series of Unfortunate Events being directed to younger people does not justify the fact that Mr. Poe is still irritatingly naive, for an instance.

    I'm still curious to know what's about to happen with the Baudelaire children and Count Olaf, but I'm no longer anxious to know in what kind of situation they'll get into in the book.
  • (5/5)
    I found myself feeling sorry for these 3 Baudelaire orphans and pretty much caught up with their adventures. This is the 3rd installment of the Unfortunate Event Series, following the unfortunate lives of the 3 Baudelaire orphans, namely Violet (an Inventor), Klaus (the Bookworm) & Sunny (the baby who would bite anything, and I mean anything!) after living with their departed Uncle Monty, killed by Count Olaf, but he escaped in the process of about to put him behind bars. Mr Poe (in my opinion, a useless main caretaker), a family friend who took care for the orphans fortune until Violet came to an age, brought them to live with another family member, name Mrs. Josephine Anwhistle, who lived in a house, in the edge of a hill (literally) above Lake Lachrymose, that is infested with Lachrymose Leeches, who would eat a human if they smellt food on them. Living with Aunt Josephine, who was a total grammar freak and scared of every single thing, that they have to live in a cold house, eating cold food (she's afraid of fire incidents) and the irony of being afraid of Lake Lachrymose, she actually lived on top of it. Yet counting their blessings the Baudelaire orphans, they felt lucky to be in a home with somebody that scared they actually feel secure. Until they came to a market one day and meet the Captain Sham, with a patch on one eye and a peg as one leg. but we all knew who exactly Captain Sham was, of course Aunt Josephine wasn't very keen to believe the children. One day, Aunt Josephine died, death cause, jumping through the window, leaving the three of them to Captain Sham (Count Olaf in disguised), and they knew Mr Poe wasn't very keen to actually believe Captain Sham was Count Olaf in disguise (He simply believed they kids are hallucinating and seeing him everywhere). The orphans tries to figure out a way to escape from the clutches of Count Olaf again when they discovered their aunt was still alive and was in hiding, somewhere. So they tried to get to her and tried to convince her to come back out to the world. If you are looking for a happily ever after kind of ending for your kids, I suggest you look away from this series. But if you want to give a little modern era children facing somewhat real, you should let them read this one and of course, it's not just for children. As before, we have free vocabulary lessons in this book as well. Enjoy.
  • (2/5)
    Another tale of misery and woe from Mr. Snicket. This one about a guardian who lives in a state of perpetual phobic uncertainty. It doesn't help her though. She's no better off in the end than the rest of them.
  • (4/5)
    The third in a series, this episode has the Baudelaire orphans on another adventure when their new guardian fakes her death and they have to find her before Count Olaf gets them. The children don't seem to have grown or changed much from the previous book, though they are learning that Mr. Poe doesn't listen to them when they tell him someone is Count Olaf in disguise. The setting is made up to the point that a hurricane occurs on a lake, making the story not very believable. The theme is more clearly stated at this end of this book, when the author says that the children appreciate being able to have each other to turn to in all the hard times they face. The situations they get into continue to get more ridiculous as the series progresses, but I'm sure children would find it entertaining, so I would include this in my collection.
  • (4/5)
    The three Baudelaires are sent next to Aunt Josephine, who is afraid of everything, and whose house is perched precariously over Lake Lachrymose. Count Olaf, disguised as a boat captain, hunts them down in the end as always.Slightly grisly, always dryly funny, this series continues to keep my attention. The constant doom and gloom is a little wearing, but balanced by the sharpness of the telling and the extremeness of it all. I love the very un-stereotypical children, especially Violet, who is always inventing.
  • (3/5)
    Better than the second, maybe even the first. I definitely think this needs to be the last book that has the so-called family member adopt the kids, I really want to see them strike out on their own soon. Also, it becomes more apparent that something larger is at play in the background, that there's a real reason why this is happening to the kids.
  • (2/5)
    The Wide Window by Limony Snicket is about three orphans trying to find a safe place to live while being pursued by the money-hungry Count Olaf. This is the third book in the Series of Unfortunate Events Series. The orphans have inherited a large fortune and count Olaf, apparently, will stop at nothing, including murder, kidnapping, and torture to get his hands on it. The book is easy to read and simple in plot. The characters each have particular traits and are not truly developed in this book and I assume in the series of books. I would recommend this book for students in middle and elementary school. The language and plot might be too simple for high school readers. I would also recommend this book for younger students who learn to read by reading books in a series. The text is simple enough to allow the student to focus on the story instead of on decoding. Whats more, words that may seem difficult for readers are explained by the narrator as the story is told.
  • (4/5)
    This is the 3rd book in the Series of Unfortunate Events. Once again the Baudelaire children are on the move. They are moving in with a new relative, 'Aunt Josephine'. The children learn pretty quick that Aunt Josephine has a few quirks and problems. Namely, she is afraid of almost everything. And as such puts out many rules of things to do and not do that make their stay less than ideal. Things were going along bearably well until Aunt Josephine met Captain Sham, and things went from bad to worse. Can the children get themselves out of the smörgåsbord of trouble that comes at them? Smörgåsbord here meaning a long and varied list of bad things happening.This continues the tales of the Baudelaire children as they continue to be pushed around by grownups who never quite seem to know what is the best thing for kids but always believe they do.
  • (2/5)
    I wish I hadn't started reading this series but now I have to find out how it ends.
  • (3/5)
    More tragedy occurs with the Baudelaire orphans as they are shipped off to live with yet another relative and inevitably encounter Count Olaf. Getting a little bit too formulaic.
  • (4/5)
    After Olaf arranges the cruel murder of their sweet and naive Uncle Monty, the Baudelaire children are bundled off to another relative guardian, Aunt Josephine. She lives in a rickety house at the top edge of a cliff that leans out over Lake Lachrymose. The cliff is so unstable that it is supported by wooden beams. Despite her strange and precarious home, Aunt Josephine is scared of everything. She is kind to Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, but she has a multitude of ridiculous rules and restrictions, all intended to keep them safe.While the Baudelaires are not exactly living a life of luxury, they are happy to be with an adult who genuinely cares for them, and in a place that has no trace of Olaf. They soon learn the source of Aunt Joephine's irrational fear. In her library, which is a large room at the end of the house that overlooks the lake through a large window, she recounts the story of her husband's death on Lake Lachrymose. Apparently, the lake has carnivorous leeches who eat people if they can smell any remaining traces of food on them.
  • (3/5)
    One of the funniest things I've ever read: "If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, especially if the thing is cats. "Another satisfying tale.
  • (3/5)
    This series is cute, but just too juvenile for adults to truly enjoy.
  • (5/5)
    Continuing the series as a read aloud with my son. I enjoyed installment 3 more than installment 2, perhaps because the orphans seemed pluckier and more independent here, or perhaps because there was so much discussion of grammatical errors. We also just watched this section of the Netflix adaptation of the series, and it was excellent.
  • (3/5)
    Although still fantastically gothic, this story lost a star due to the fact that its structure was almost exactly the same as The Reptile Room. This was somewhat unfortunate, as it it made it pretty obvious where the plot was heading from the word go.However, the Orphans are as likable as ever and Snicket's wonderful writing style will still not cease to amuse the reader. It is certainly never dull!
  • (4/5)
    This is a rather sad story so if you are looking for something to cheer you up do not read this story! I would however highly recommend this book to horror story readers and people who are maybe a little bit to happy. This is in fact one of the best books I have ever read, Even though it is sad, you just can't stop reading it. This book is age appropriate for ages nine through fourteen. I highly recommend this, and all the other books in this series. I love how the author jumps in and tells about his life, and his lost love Beatrice. Lemony Snicket does a wonderful job in writing and I look forward to reading many more of his books.
  • (3/5)
    The third book in the Series of Unfortunate Events follows the same pattern as before. The pattern is set now: the kids end up with yet another guardian found by Mr. Poe, the banker in charge of their fortune. The circumstances of their new home is less than ideal generally because the new guardian dismisses the children's concerns regarding a suspicious person (Count Olaf in disguise) and the kids end up in danger, only to be rescued through their own ingenuity and brave action. So why keep reading the series? For two reasons: the descriptions of the new guardians and circumstances (in this case a widow who is obsessed with correct grammar and is afraid of almost everything including doorknobs and telephones) and the little tidbits about Lemony Snicket aka the narrator's strange and mysterious life and his lady love--the dead Beatrice.
  • (5/5)
    This took me with them but it didn't really catch my attention as other books can. But I still really liked the series.
  • (3/5)
    Yet again, the three Baudelaire children find themselves having to adjust to another home and caretaker. In The Wide Window, they are sent to live with a distant relative, Aunt Josephine. Aunt Josephine lives at the top of a high hill overlooking Lake Lachrymose. She is a fearful woman who is afraid of being electrocuted by her own telephone and refuses to turn on her radiator because it might cause an explosion. She only prepares cold meals because of her fear of the stove. Aunt Josephine loves grammar and would make Lynne Truss proud with her boldness in pointing out grievous grammatical errors. The children are trying to make the best of their situation with Aunt Josephine when their lives suddenly grow much worse with the appearance of an old nemesis.

    I found myself laughing out loud and reading passages to my husband as I went along just as I had with the previous two books. The dedications in these books are worth reading as well. Although I am enjoying the series and would like to read more, I am ready for a break. The stories are funny and entertaining, however, they are very similar and somewhat predictable.
  • (3/5)
    Interesting book- read it because all of my year 4s love them and I wanted to see what the fuss was about.