Book Review: The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket

By Angela Maria Hart

The Wide Window continues the story of the Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. The story began when the children were taken to another new guardian by Mr. Poe, their caretaker.

In The Wide Window, their guardian is Aunt Josephine, who was not really their aunt, but preferred to be called Aunt Josephine. While she is not necessarily the most likeable character, she is by far one of the most entertaining characters throughout the series as far as I am concerned. Aunt Josephine has a number of irrational fears that are rather ridiculous and unlikely to occur.

For instance, she was afraid of realtors, using the oven, doormats (in case they slid out from under someone forcing them to hit their head on the floor instantly killing them in the process), and many others. In The Wide Window, Aunt Josephine’s one true love was grammar. When I say she loved grammar, I am not joking or exaggerating. “Well, I am very happy to have you here,” Aunt Josephine said, “I love grammar so much. I’m excited to be able to share my love of grammar with three nice children like yourselves. Well, I’ll give you a few minutes to settle in and then we’ll have some dinner. See you soon.” (Page 21) Aunt Josephine thought that grammar was the most important thing in the world. Even when she was being threatened with her life, she corrected the person’s grammar.

Aunt Josephine gave Violet, Klaus, and Sunny chilled cucumber soup because she refused to use the stove fearing that it would set the house on fire. Aunt Josephine and her odd fears are what contributes to this novel’s overall tone. Her irrational fears and tendency to be over-the-top creates an interesting dynamic for the novel. Count Olaf found the children, once again, utilizing a peg leg as his disguise. It did not take long for Olaf to enact his latest scheme in an attempt to gain access to the Baudelaire fortune.

Spoilers! In the end, Aunt Josephine was an unfit guardian for the Baudelaires and tragically passed away. Then, Mr. Poe was forced to take the children to yet another new guardian, while the vicious Count Olaf escapes the authorities yet again. Reading the stories in order contributes to the general love and understanding of the story and Snicket’s humor.