A Series of Unfortunate Events
A Series of Unfortunate Events is the story of the three Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Claus and Sunny. The books are narrated by Lemony Snicket, a mysterious man who follows the story through clues passed on through a secret organization known only as the V.F.D. The series begins with the three children losing their parents in a fire. Consequently, a banker named Mr. Poe takes charge of the children and leaves them with the nearest relative, Count Olaf. The children, however, are dubious to the fact that Olaf is actually a relative. Olaf and his troupe become the villain of the series. During their stay with Count Olaf, the children are forced to perform ridiculous and cruel tasks. Eventually, the children are able to escape, and though the children are not still under Olaf's care, he is still intent on finding them and stealing their money. In each book, the children are given a different guardian which causes more problems for them. In their attempts to settle down into a home, the orphans find that the problems they encounter all seem to be pointing to the same mysterious agency, the V.F.D. They meet many members of this secret organization that train them in different areas. Violet is a great inventor. Klaus is good at research. And, Sunny, though just a baby, is good at biting things, and eventually becomes a wonderful cook. The mystery of the V.F.D. compounds as the series goes on, making it often ambiguous as to whether the agency is good or bad.
The Bad Beginning
The Baudelaire orphans learn of their parents death while sitting on a beach. Mr. Poe, a banker, comes to give them the news of their parents demise and take charge of them. He gives them into the hands of their next nearest relative, Count Olaf. Though the children doubt Olaf's legitimacy as their relative, he becomes their guardian. Olaf and his acting troupe treat the children horribly. They force them to cook and clean the house, which is filthy and falling apart. However, the children find a friend in their next door neighbor, Justice Strauss. She lets them use her library and is generally sympathetic towards the children. The children use her as help in buying ingredients for a dinner that Olaf has ordered them to cook for his acting troupe. There is no food in the house, and because of the mess the house is in, the kitchen is unfit to cook in. However, with the help of Violet's inventions, Klause's research skills, and Sunny's teeth, the children cook up a wonderful dinner of Pasta Puttanesca. This, of course, does not satisfy Count Olaf, who wanted roast beef.
The children seek Mr. Poe for help in the matter of their new guardian. However, Mr. Poe is not the most observant or understanding banker, and tells the children that Olaf is a perfectly fine guardian. However, unbeknown to Mr. Poe, Count Olaf has devised a plan to steal the orphan's money left to them after their parents death. Olaf puts together a play with his troupe, entitled The Marvelous Marriage by Al Funcoot. This series is filled with acronyms. During the play, Olaf will marry Violet, the oldest Baudelaire orphan, making it seem as if it is all part of the show. Klause uses the library of Justice Strauss to read about nuptial law to find a way to stop Olaf's plan. But, Olaf has invited Justice Strauss to play the part of a Justice in the play, and if they say wedding vows and sign the legal documents, the marriage will be legal.
To make sure that the Baudelaire orphans will behave during the play, Olaf puts Sunny in a cage and locks her in the highest tower of his house, guarded by a member of his troupe. Klause and Violet attempt to rescue Sunny by using the grappling hook invented by Violet. However, Olaf's troupe captures them and locks them in the tower until the play begins.
The play is performed using members of the community and Olaf's troupe. When it reaches the point of Olaf and Violet's marriage, Olaf proudly declares the success of his plan by announcing Violet's marriage. Justice Strauss, who sympathizes with the children, informs Olaf that you cannot marry if you are underage. But, Olaf counters that you may marry with a guardian's permission, and since he is her guardian, she must have permission. But, Violet announces that she has signed the document with her left hand. Being right handed, this voids the marriage. Justice Strauss agrees. Klause, Violet and Sunny are reunited, but Olaf escapes, threatening the children by telling them he will continue to pursuit them. Because the children have grown close to Justice Strauss, she offers to adopt them. But, Mr. Poe insists that their parents wished for them to be kept by a relative. The book ends as they are taken off to find their next guardian.