Thursday, 7 August 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Wide Window, Chapter 8

As you’re reading this I’m going to be on a coach heading down south. Hopefully it’ll post without any problems but if anything looks a little bit weird, I apologise. Let me know and I’ll try and fix it when I’m able to. :-)

What Happens?

Back at Aunt Josephine’s house, Klaus heads to the library to investigate spelling and grammar in order to get to the bottom of Josephine’s mystery letter. He discovers a hidden message; Curdled Cave. The wind starts to get up and the children don’t have much time to find out where the cave is. They locate Josephine’s books about Lake Lachrymose and identify the whereabouts of Curdled Cave. Then the hurricane hits and causes the house to fall off the side of the hill!

Thoughts as I read:

This chapter opens with a picture of poor Sunny suffering with her peppermint allergy. She’s got raised bumps and a swollen tongue and the picture is appropriately framed by a striped pattern which looks an awful lot like a peppermint. I could almost imagine it being red and white.

Klaus’s tongue is all swollen and all he can say is Bluh bluh bluh bluh bluh. I can’t help but be reminded of Ross in Friends in the episode where he eats the pie that he’s allergic to and his tongue swells up. Violet can’t understand a word that Klaus is saying, see this is where they need Joey with his experience of his large-tongued uncle.

Even Sunny is having difficulty. She wants to say “Gans!” which means “Good, because my hives are driving me crazy!” in response to Violet’s proposal that the sisters take a baking soda bath to sooth the itch, but all she can get out is “Bluh!” Meanwhile Klaus is to get on with his cunning plan to get them out of the clutches of Captain Shah.

I’m impressed that feeling uncomfortable from an allergic reactions he’s still able to think about their dire situation. My allergies don’t cause a swollen tongue, but they do cause hives and that doesn’t make me feel like doing much when my hands are all bumpy and itchy. I think it shows what an awful problem this is going to be for them considering how yucky he must feel with his poor swollen tongue.

Klaus heads to the library, a room without any glass in the window, as if he’s not suffering enough already. The broken window caused damage to some of the books which Snicket laments. Considering this is a book series, a lot of bad things happen to books in it; we’ve had them burned and spoiled with water so far. Poor books!

Klaus is conducting a little investigation into the Aunt Josephine’s note with the help of three books Basic Rules of Grammar and Punctuation, Handbook for Advanced Apostrophe Use, and The Correct Spelling of Every English Word That Ever, Ever Existed. That last one has got to be a big book! In fact, we’re told that each one is as big as a watermelon.

After a REALLY long time Klaus finally reaches the conclusion of his investigation, writes two words at the bottom of the note and his sisters re-join him in the library. Klaus’s tongue is starting work properly again now so he’s coming out with phrases like “Bluh, bluh take a baking soda bluh?” which means that Violet is finally able to understand him at last. Even Sunny is getting better now as well:

“Bluh?” Sunny shrieked, which probably meant “gluh?” which mean something along the lines of “Why are you wasting valuable time studying grammar?”

Klaus reveals that the note was not accidentally misspelled and grammatically incorrect, they were in fact there for a reason; to conceal a hidden message to the children. Which was quite a big risk to take really because that relies on the ability of the children to figure out what the message is. As he’s explaining this Sunny gives another “Bluh” meaning “Please continue, Klaus.” So she’s not quite as well as Klaus is then.

Remember the note with all its mistakes. Well Klaus goes through each error again, just to remind us of them; the wrong ‘its’, ‘Ike’ instead of ‘ice’, ‘inbearable’ instead of ‘unbearable’, and so on. As he rattles them all off Sunny says “Coik!” which means “Thinking about all this is making me dizzy!” or perhaps it’s the after effects of the peppermint, maybe Sunny’s the lucky Baudelaire who gets hives and a swollen tongue with a side order of dizziness.

All of these so-called mistakes point to one place: Curdled Cave. And just in case you weren’t paying attention while they were spelling (heh) it out, Klaus spells it out for us. Each letter in the name comes from one of the miss-used letters in the letter. It’s quite a complicated message so you have to give Josephine credit for coming up with it in the first place, and then actually being able to use the letter to pass it along.

Obviously things can’t be that simple for the Baudelaires. In an ideal world they would’ve been able to go to Curdled Cave or sent someone there in their place. But there’s a hurricane on the way and it chooses that moment to strike. They’re not exactly in the best position for this right now considering the fact that they’re in a house perched on the side of a cliff and the wind is blowing in through the broken window. As if the poor books haven’t already suffered enough the hurricane starts wrecking havoc on them as the children escape from the room. I hope their suffering is quick and painless.

Next up, they need to find out information on where Curdled Cave is. Violet guesses that it’s somewhere around Lake Lachrymose and that Josephine hasn’t actually killed herself, she’s hiding out somewhere safe from Captain Sham. That’s not the only thing in hiding; Ike’s books on Lake Lachrymose are hidden away and now the children have to find them, and quickly too before the house is blown off the cliff!

It’s been a while since we had some Unfortunate Events repetition. The Baudelaires start to remember where they have hidden things that they didn’t want to be found; Violet hid an automatic harmonica she invented, Klaus a book on the Franco-Prussian war which was too difficult to read (again, giving a little hint to when, or when it isn’t, set), Sunny thinks of piece of stone that was too hard for her to bite. They all hid these things in the same place; under the bed (or in Sunny’s case “Seeka yit”). So they head for Josephine’s room:

Normally it is not polite to go into somebody’s room without knocking, but you can make an exception if the person is dead, or pretending to be dead…

Well, that’s handy to know.

Josephine hides a lot of things under the bed, it’s a wonder that the feet still touch the floor! She’s got scary pots and pans, ugly socks (I like ugly socks, I’ve started knitting some which should be hideous), as well as a photo of Ike whistling with his mouth full of crackers. And then they come across some books: The Tides of Lake Lachrymose, The Bottom of Lake Lachrymose, Lachrymose Trout, The History of the Damocles Dock Region, Ivan Lachrymose – Lake Explorer, How Water Is Made, and one that looks promising: A Lachrymose Atlas.

I love the names of things in this series. The books are nothing compared to the names of the places surround Lake Lachrymose. After fretting about how they’ll find one place in a book over four-hundred pages long and thinking to use the index we’re treated to names such as Carp Cove, Chartreuse Island, Cloudy Cliffs and Condiment Bay. I’d quite like to see a map of this place to see some of the other places around the lake.

And they’ve got no choice but to walk down to Damocles Dock and then sail across the lake to get to the cave. Quite a bit of walking that they’re having to do here today. Never mind getting across the water in the hurricane force storm. I’ve been on some rocky ferries before but really, wouldn’t fancy that at all!

They don’t really have much choice about leaving anyway, because one of the stilts supporting the house has been struck by lightning and has rendered the house decidedly unsafe, as if it wasn’t before. Sunny has the right idea here “Tafca!” meaning “We have to get out of here right now!”

They make their move but not quick enough. The house starts to shake and everyone falls over:

Violet fell against one of the bedposts and banged her knee. Klaus fell against the cold radiator and banged his foot. And Sunny fell into the pile of tin cans and banged everything.

I love some of the turns of phrase in these books.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, or rather one page of the book into a few sentences, the whole house lurches and the children make it to the door and out of the house. Just in the nick of time because at that moment the whole thing falls off the edge of the cliff and into the lake, luckily without the children in it.

I have to admit, I was expecting this chapter to be longer than it was because I was remembering the way that things happened in the film, where all the things that Aunt Josephine was scared of (like exploding doorknobs) actually happened. This chapter’s end came as a bit of a surprise to me. It’s making me wonder how much of this book I’m actually remembering and how much I think I remember but is actually the film. 

It’s a double posting day for Chapter-by-Chapter tomorrow so we’ll see then.

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