The Bad Beginning

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The Bad Beginning
AuthorLemony Snicket (pen name of Daniel Handler)
IllustratorBrett Helquist
Cover artistBrett Helquist
CountryUnited States
SeriesA Series of Unfortunate Events
GenreGothic fiction
Absurdist fiction
PublisherScholastic Inc.
Publication date
September 30, 1999
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Fic 21
LC ClassPZ7.S6795 Bad 1999
Followed byThe Reptile Room 

The Bad Beginning is a book by Lemony Snicket. It is the first book in a series called A Series of Unfortunate Events. The book was released in 1999.

Plot[change | change source]

Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire were enjoying a day at Briny Beach. Mr. Poe, a banker and friend of the family, went to the beach to them that their parents had died in a fire which also destroyed their home. Mr. Poe is the executor of the Baudelaire fortune. It is his responsibility to put the children with a guardian and take care of their money until Violet turns eighteen (the legal age to handle money).

The Baudelaire children were taken to their new guardian Count Olaf. Olaf is a distant relative of the children. He works as an actor. On their way, they met Justice Strauss. Strauss is a kind and friendly judge who lives in the house next to them. She tells the children that they are welcome in her home anytime, which has a library in it. Count Olaf is a very cruel, filthy man. He has one long eyebrow and a strange tattoo of an eye on his left ankle. Olaf lives in a dirty musty house. Most importantly, he only adopted the children to get their money. He constantly made them do chores and other things, while only giving them with one bed to sleep in. Count Olaf also refers them as "orphans" instead of "children".

Olaf's theatre troupe was coming to his house that night to practice. Olaf told the children that they had to make dinner for everyone. There was no food in the house, so the children went to the marketplace with Justice Strauss to buy the ingredients for Pasta Puttanesca. Count Olaf complained that he wanted roast beef but he had never told them this. He became very mad and hit Klaus across the face. The children went to Mr. Poe at his bank in order to get help. Mr. Poe told them that Olaf may raise them however he wants. He then called Olaf to tell him of the Baudelaires' visit. When they got back to their home, Olaf told the children that he was sorry. He also told them that they would be in an upcoming play, called The Marvelous Marriage written by Al Funcoot. Olaf would play the groom, Violet would be the bride, and Klaus and Sunny would be people in the audience.

The children spent the day at Justice Strauss's home. While Violet and Sunny were helping in the garden, Klaus was reading law books in the library. He took a book on nuptial law out of the library with him when they return home. Klaus spent the entire night reading about how they could stop Count Olaf's plan to get their money. He learned that two people can be married if they sign a document and say their wedding vows in the presence of a legal judge. Olaf planned to marry Violet during the play to get control of the money. When Klaus talked to Count Olaf about this, he only smiled and laughed. Klaus ran to wake up his sisters but Sunny was not there. Violet and Klaus followed Olaf outside. They learned that Sunny was being held inside a birdcage at the top of the tower.

Count Olaf told them that one of his henchmen had kidnapped Sunny while they were sleeping. He warned them that if they did not do what he told them to do during the play, the cage will be released and Sunny would fall to her death. That night, Violet made a grappling hook to reach the top of the tower but she was kept captive with Klaus until the play began.

The play was performed. Olaf stopped it after the wedding scene to say that he and Violet were now married. Justice Strauss said that Violet could not marry because she was not old enough. Olaf said that she could be married if her parent or guardian allowed it. As her guardian, he allowed to get married. Sunny was returned to them. Violet said that she was right-handed but signed the document with her left hand. Judge Strauss said that this made the marriage not legal. Olaf escaped when one of his henchmen turned off the theater's lights. Just as Violet was about to turn the lights back on, Olaf quietly said that he would always be after them, and that when he got their fortune, he would kill them with his own hands. Justice Strauss was willing to adopt the Baudelaires, but Mr. Poe told her that their parents' will said a relative must care for them. They got into Mr. Poe's car and it drove away as Justice Strauss waved goodbye.

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