A Series of Unfortunate Events Summary
by Daniel Handler

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A Series of Unfortunate Events Summary

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Each book in "A Series of Unfortunate Events" relates one catastrophe after another that occurs to the Baudelaire orphans, Sunny, Klaus, and Violet. In the first book, the children are at the beach one day when they are told that their house burned down, killing their parents. Left to an evil guardian, Count Olaf, they counter his plans to secure their fortune and spend each book thereafter escaping Count Olaf and his dastardly schemes. The Baudelaires lose two guardians to Count Olaf's murderous plots along the way, including the insect scholar, Uncle Monty, and their useless and fearful Aunt Josephine. Things continue to go from bad to worse, as the courageous orphans find themselves laborers in a sawmill, sent off to a cruel boarding school, stuck in the city with another evil guardian, exiled to an isolated village, and camped out in a half finished hospital. Along the way, the orphans meet one stupid or bad adult after another, like the banker, Mr. Poe, who is supposed to take care of the orphans but fails regularly. The Baudelaires do find friends, including the Quagmire orphans, but they disappear for long periods of time. To complicate matters, the strange narrator of the series, Lemony Snicket, seems involved in the Baudelaire story somehow. Life never improves, but the Baudelaires, who are bright, decent, and determined, manage to get out of one thorny situation after another, and finding out how is part of the fun of reading these novels.