The Wide Window Summary

Lemony Snicket

The Wide Window

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The Wide Window Summary

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The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket is the third installment in the series A Series of Unfortunate Events. Lemony Snicket is the pen name of American novelist Daniel Handler. Lemony Snicket is also a fictional character in All the Wrong Questions, a four-part series that is also a prequel to the A Series of Unfortunate Events series by the same author.

The Wide Window begins not long after the events of The Reptile Room, the second installment of the series. Mr. Poe, the banker in charge of the Baudelaire fortune, places Klaus, Sunny, and Violet, known also as the Baudelaire orphans, in the care of Aunt Josephine. Aunt Josephine’s home is on a hill overlooking Lake Lachrymose. The lake is large enough to support occasional hurricanes. Aunt Josephine is kind, but fearful of almost everything in and out of her house.

Violet meets Captain Julio Sham, a sailor, while helping Aunt Josephine complete a shopping trip to the local grocery store. Violet determines that Captain Sham is really Count Olaf, dressed in a disguise. For readers unfamiliar with the other books in the series, Count Olaf is the primary antagonist. He is a criminal known for his eccentricity and his disguises. Despite Violet’s insistence, Aunt Josephine does not believe that Captain Sham could possibly be Count Olaf because Sham is so charming. Later that night, the children hear a loud crash. When they go to investigate the noise, they find a note saying that their Aunt Josephine jumped through the wide window overlooking the lake. The note stipulates that Captain Sham will be their guardian from now on.

The children are convinced that the note was forged by Count Olaf, but they cannot persuade Mr. Poe of their suspicions. Therefore, they have to attend a dinner at a restaurant, the Anxious Clown, with Count Olaf and Mr. Poe. Violet, knowing that she, Klaus, and Sunny are allergic to peppermints, sneaks them into their food so they break out in hives. This allergic reaction offers them a distraction and a chance to go back to the aunt’s house to come up with some sort of plan.

Klaus recognizes Aunt Josephine’s handwriting in the note they found dictating the change in guardianship but notices that the grammatical mistakes are deliberate and create a secret message. They decode the message as “Curdled Cave.” By the time they finish, a hurricane hits the house and it begins to break apart, falling into the water. The wide window shatters, and the children run to the front of the house, which is still on land.

Armed with Aunt Josephine’s secret message, the children walk to Captain Sham’s boat store. They plan to steal a boat so that they can get to Curdled Cave, but the weather worsens again, delaying them. By the time they get to the boat store, one of Count Olaf’s henchmen is waiting there. Despite that, Sunny manages to steal the keys and gain access to the boats. The children sail to the cave where Aunt Josephine was forced to pen the note. Count Olaf simply broke the wide window to convince them that she’d jumped to her death.

After learning this information and recovering Aunt Josephine, they sail back. They struggle with Lachrymose leeches, which smell food in Aunt Josephine’s stomach and so are attracted to the boat. Unfortunately, anyone who eats within an hour of crossing the lake draws the unwanted attention of the bloodsucking leeches, and Aunt Josephine had just eaten a banana. They manage to signal for assistance, but it is Count Olaf who comes to their aid. He takes the children and leaves Aunt Josephine to fall prey to the leeches.

Count Olaf brings the kids back to the house, and finally Sunny is able to prove to Mr. Poe that Captain Sham is a disguise for Count Olaf. He does this by biting off the fake wooden peg leg that Olaf had been wearing. Once it is removed, an identifying tattoo in the shape of an eye is revealed. Despite this revelation, Count Olaf escapes with his henchman, but not before locking Mr. Poe and the children in the gatehouse of Aunt Josephine’s home. At the end of the book, they escape, but too late to catch Count Olaf. Mr. Poe begins to look for a new guardian for the three Baudelaire children.

In 2004, the first three books of the A Series of Unfortunate Events book series were combined and adapted into a feature-length film starring Jim Carey and Meryl Streep. Elements from The Wide Window were included in the film. The books were also adapted into a television series by Netflix; The Wide Window served as the basis for the fifth and sixth episodes in the first season.