Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Carnivorous Carnival, Chapter 2

We’ve reached the final Chapter-by-Chapter blog post of the year. I’ve been writing these posts since around May. I’m enjoying sharing my thoughts on here as I read these books. I’m anticipating reaching the end of this series within the next couple of months (hopefully in April providing I can get all of my posts scheduled as I’m hoping to). I’m about 99% certain that the series I will read next will be the Twilight books which I think will be fun because I’ve never read them before but I’ve heard a lot about them.

Enough about what will be happening in four months’ time though, here’s Chapter 2 of The Carnivorous Carnival.

What Happens?

We meet Madame Lulu, the fortune teller and woman behind Olaf’s attempts to catch the Baudelaires. The children realise that they have nowhere to go and instead set about trying to find disguises that they can wear to conceal their identities. Before long Violet and Klaus are disguised as conjoined twins and Sunny is part-human/part-wolf. And then they go right on and introduce themselves to Madame Lulu.

Thoughts as I read:

One of the things I remembered about this book was that Sunny gets disguised as a super hairy child. And the picture that opens this chapter shows us exactly what that looks like. She looks a little like Taz the Tazmanian Devil. She’s got a little tail and her fingers look like claws but I can’t help but think that she looks rather cute.

And on with the chapter. It’s another long one, though I should probably stop saying that because all of the chapters in this book are quite long!

Eavesdropping – a word which here means “listening in on interesting conversations you are not invited to join” – is a valuable thing to do, and it is often an enjoyable thing to do, but it is not a polite thing to do, and like most impolite things, you are bound to get into trouble if you are caught doing it.

Snicket speaks the truth, and there is something quite enjoyable about listening in to other people’s conversations… as long as they’re not talking about you and how Olaf is going kill you. Olaf is making it easy to listen in to the conversation since he’s not speaking too quietly.

Madame Lulu is revealed to be the inspiration behind Olaf’s role as the auctioneer who could not speak English very well, please, and she’s expecting a gift from Olaf in return for her crystal gazing. Sounds like she’s got a good set up here, she tells him what he wants to hear, and he gives her gifts for it! Esme’s not impressed with this. What do these women see in this guy?!

Olaf and the gang have many questions for Madame Lulu, including where the Baudelaires are, where the Snicket file is, whether either of the Baudelaire parents survived the fire and whether or not they can have more wine:

“So many demands you make,” Madame Lulu said in her strange accent. “Madame Lulu remembers, please, when you would visit only for the pleasure of my company, my Olaf.”
“There isn’t time for that tonight,” Olaf replied quickly.

Am I the only one who thinks that maybe they’re talking about more than just asking questions?

Now we learn that the crystal ball has certain rules. You are only allowed to ask one question of it, at sunrise. Olaf plans to hang around until all of his questions have been answered. This will make staying at the carnival slightly awkward for the Baudelaires then.

Unlike most normal people, who would be horrified at the thought of Olaf hanging around for more than a day, Madame Lulu is thrilled, because they’ve not got many visitors. It seems to have dawned on her that maybe building a carnival in the middle of nowhere is not the brightest of business plans. But Olaf’s not going give Lulu any money until he’s got the Baudelaire fortune. I wouldn’t trust him unless I had that in writing… actually, I’m not sure I would trust him even if I did have it in writing!

Lulu gets slightly cold with Olaf when it’s revealed that Esme is his girlfriend, hehe. Sucks to be you, Olaf. He’s obviously a little bit worried and starts to tell the fortune teller about how he became an actor. The children obviously can’t see any of this, but they know their former guardian well enough to imagine what he looks like while he speaks, that’s convenient. The children don’t care to learn just how he became an actor so they take the chance to get away from the tent.

Klaus freaks Violet out by mentioning the risk of being eaten by wild animals. They’re sort of stuck though, because if they do manage to find someone then they’re likely to assume they’re murderers and hand them over to the police. And as adults don’t listen to them chances are they’ll not listen when the Baudelaires try to tell the truth.

Then there’s the question of Madame Lulu. Is she really getting the information from her crystal ball? Will she be able to give them the answers to the questions they have? Sunny, as usual, gets the deciding vote. ‘Sandover,’ she says, meaning ‘So we’re staying.’ Her siblings go along with this, but the next question is where to spend the night. ‘Karneez?’ Sunny asks, referring to the people who live in the caravans dotted around the carnival.

Luckily Violet’s feeling a little bit more like her normal self and heads over to Olaf’s car boot, announcing that she’s got an idea. ‘Nuts!’ is Sunny’s response to this, meaning ‘I don’t think that’s such a good idea, Violet.’ But the plan isn’t to hide in the trunk again, it’s to use the things inside to disguise themselves. Sunny is sceptical (‘Gabrowha?’), as is Klaus, but they don’t have very much choice, or time for that matter!

While looking through the detritus in the boot the children make some discoveries about Olaf. Violet finds a bit of a brass lamp (presumably the one that fell out of the window) from Uncle Monty, Klaus find an In Boutique shopping bag which must belong to Esme, and Sunny found the pantyhose covered in sawdust Olaf wore in Paltryville. They also learn that Olaf carries quite a lot of disguises. He might be evil, but he’s very well prepared!

This does give the Baudelaires quite a few options; clown and judge are mooted. Sunny finds a veil which Violet is already familiar with, announcing ‘Twicho!’ as she does. She also says ‘Ginawn!’ meaning ‘All these clothes are too big for me’. Violet’s having the same problem, but when she says ‘I’d only look freakish’ it gives Klaus an idea. ‘Whazit?’ Sunny says in response to his exclamation, I love that she’s almost speaking English now.

Klaus’s plan is to make them look like contenders for Madame Lulu’s House of Freaks, which leads to a discussion about the inappropriateness of putting people with birth defects into tents for people to look at. John Merrick (meaning Joseph Merrick) gets a mention from Klaus. Sunny says ‘Radev’ meaning ‘Somebody’s going to put a stop to us if we don’t disguise ourselves soon’. The only reference to Radev I can find is a criminal, I suppose that could be the reference that was intended.

And so Klaus and Violet don a pair of trousers and a shirt together, making them into a two-headed person. Or as would be more politically correct, two people with one body. Then they disguise themselves even further with the use of a makeup kit and some fake scars, because they’ve obviously had a hard life.

Sunny asks ‘Beriu’ (a place in Romania) which here means ‘What about me?’ Klaus suggests Sunny just squeeze into a shoe to become a person with a head and a foot, but that’s not going to work. ‘Chelish,’ she says, meaning ‘I’m too big to fit inside a shoe’ – apparently they’re not clown shoes. Instead they pull out a fake beard. And just like that the three Baudelaires are turned into conjoined twins and a hairy baby.

To make sure that they’re totally disguised Klaus has to abandon his glasses and Violet her hair ribbon. I hope she keeps it some place safe so she doesn’t have to try and think without it, like at the hospital! They also disguise their voices, Sunny is instructed to growl and suddenly they’re different people entirely. It’s not a thought that Klaus relishes particularly.

In no time at all they’re knocking on Madame Lulu’s door and introducing themselves as ‘freaks’. Lulu’s wearing an eye on a chain, one just like all those other eyes we’ve seen in the last eight books. That does not bode well.

Even worse is the fact that she invites them inside, inside to where Olaf and all of his gang are waiting. Definitely in the belly of the beast now!

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