“There are two reasons why a writer would end a sentence with the word “stop” written entirely in capital letters STOP.”
Of course, STOP is written to“There are two reasons why a writer would end a sentence with the word “stop” written entirely in capital letters STOP.”
Of course, STOP is written to mark the end of a sentence in a telegram. But Lemony Snicket is really stressing on the second usage of the word STOP to his readers when he opens up this book. He is asking his readers, quite emphatically, to STOP reading the tale of the three Baudelaire orphans. There is no surer way to guarantee that a reader, after reading such a warning, will plunge into the book at full speed.
The Baudelaires have been moving from one bad situation to a worse one, ever since the a fire consumed their parents and house. They were placed in the care of Count Olaf (Book #1), only to find out that he was a criminal who only wanted to steal the Baudelaire fortune. Since then the three children have moved on to different guardians, living with Uncle Monty who loved reptiles (Book #2), stayed with Aunt Josephine who was mortally afraid of almost everything (Book #3), worked at a mill (Book #4), worked at an academy (Book #5), lived with the Squalors (Book #6) and finally fled from a village of fowl devotees (Book #7).
Being hopelessly lost, the Baudelaires fall in with the Volunteers Fighting Disease and end up at the Hiemlich Hospital where they finally stumble upon a piece of information that is about to change who chases whom. The existence of a “Baudelaire file” puts the children at grave risk, and they stumble upon a single photograph that contains a clue that the orphans (or not?) must decipher. But before they can get anywhere with the information, they once again fall into the hands of Olaf’s associates.
I grew to enjoy this series, when I first began reading it a decade ago. The tricks of the villain aren’t too innovative or jaw-dropping but Lemony Snicket writes with a dry, clever wit, that keeps you wanting to read ahead. By this point, the series has dragged out pretty far, and there are still 5 more books to go! It’s a good thing they are quick reads, or the reader would the run the risk of giving up in the middle of the series.
More than the Baudelaire story, I’m curious about Lemony’s. I love how he drops those subtle hints about Beatrice in his dedications at the start of every book
For Beatrice – Summer without you is as cold as winter. Winter without you is even colder. …or how he writes to his “editor” at the end of every book, telling him where to find the next “manuscript of the Baudelaire story.”
Don’t miss the Jim Carrey, on-screen version of the first three books of this series, titled “A Series of Unfortunate Events”. It is funny, colorful and a good watch for the youngsters....more
This opener is a classic, an interlude to an old man’s reminiscing of his youth. You’d think, that som“I’m ninety. Or ninety-three. One or the other.”
This opener is a classic, an interlude to an old man’s reminiscing of his youth. You’d think, that someone who can’t correctly remember his age, would at best, have blurred memories of his past. But Jacob Jankowski is made of sterner stuff. He may forget the name of the nurse in his old-age home, he may not quite remember his grandchildren or their children, but memories of his youth are as fresh as if they happened yesterday.
Jacob was studying to be a vet when an accident leaves him both orphaned and penniless. In a state of delirium, Jacob begins walking and keeps walking, away from the civilization into some unknown future. And that unknown future brings him to a train, that in its many carriages, carries the magic of an entirely different world, for on this train, travels a circus.
And the drama unravels. There are performers and the workmen, freaks and animals. All the typical circus things. There’s even a gorgeous, Marlena, who is the star performer of the show, who makes her performances come alive with the animals she works with. She’s married to the equestrian director August, the sometimes charming, sometimes abusive man. And of course, Jacob falls for this woman.
What makes this book superlative is that it isn’t just a romance, at least not just between Jacob and Marlena. It is a sketch of the human soul – of how human some animals can be and of how beastly some men.
Sara Gruen’s characters are all strong, heroes and villains alike. But its the side characters whose story adds depth to the emotions. Kinko and Camel, the sort of “roommates” of Jacob or Queenie and Bobo, the dog and the chimp who in their animal-ish sort of way make your heart swell. And of course, Rosie, the elephant. For me, she was the star of this book. Every time August lashed out her or Jacob fed her whiskey to soothe her wounds, were the times that had me welling up.
“With a secret like that, at some point the secret itself becomes irrelevant. The fact that you kept it does not.” And there is that secret, right towards the end, that the author throws at you. Of course, that’s not what you expected, but you hoped all along while reading the book, that something like that would end up happening.
In Sara Gruen’s own words,
“Life is the most spectacular show on earth” …and that is exactly what she shows you through this spectacular story about a circus.
Believe it or not, Sara Gruen had never actually been to a circus in her life, before she started writing this book! Surely, you wonder then, where did the inspiration to write this story come from? The author says it all started with an article in the Chicago Tribune in 2003 on Edward Kelty, a travelling circus photographer who travelled across the U.S. following circus trains during the 1920s and 30s. She was so fascinated with the premise and the photographs accompanying the article and those in two other books, that she dropped the idea of the novel she was actually writing, to start one on a circus instead.
Sara Gruen’s favorite character in her book was Rosie (just like mine!). She loved the elephant almost enough to belive that Rosie was real.
Sara Gruen could visualize strongly how her characters would look like and behave if they were real. When asked in an interview who she would like to see cast in the movie, she chose Scarlett Johansson as Marlena (eventually played by Reese Witherspoon), Jim Carrey as August (played by Christoph Waltz). Danny DeVito would have made a great Uncle Al, according to Sara Gruen, but the actor to finally bag that role was no one. This character was eliminated in the movie version.
The film adaptation hit the screens in 2011....more