The Bad Beginning: Book the First (A Series of Unfortunate Events)

The Bad Beginning: Book the First (A Series of Unfortunate Events)

by Lemony Snicket

Audio Other(Other - Unabridged, 2 Cassettes)

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Dear Reader,

I'm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807288474
Publisher: Listening Library, Inc.
Publication date: 06/28/2004
Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events
Edition description: Unabridged, 2 Cassettes
Product dimensions: 4.58(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.83(d)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Lemony Snicket grew up near the sea and currently lives beneath it. To his horror and dismay, he has no wife or children, only enemies, associates, and the occasional loyal manservant. His trial has been delayed ,so he free to continue researching and recording the tragic tales of the Baudelaire orphans for HarperCollins.


Snicket is something of a nomad. Handler lives in San Francisco, California.

Date of Birth:

February 28, 1970

Place of Birth:

Handler was born in San Francisco in 1970, and says Snicket's family has roots in a land that's now underwater.


Handler is a 1992 graduate of Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle. This is because not very many happy things happened in the lives of the three Baudelaire youngsters. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire were intelligent children, and they were charming, and resourceful, and had pleasant facial features, but they were extremely unlucky, and most everything that happened to them was rife with misfortune, misery, and despair. I'm sorry to tell you this, but that is how the story goes.

Their misfortune began one day at Briny Beach. The three Baudelaire children lived with their parents in an enormous mansion at the heart of a dirty and busy city, and occasionally their parents gave them permission to take a rickety trolley-the word "rickety," you probably know, here means "unsteady" or "likely to collapse"-alone to the seashore, where they would spend the day as a sort of vacation as long as they were home for dinner. This particular morning it was gray and cloudy, which didn't bother the Baudelaire youngsters one bit. When it was hot and sunny, Briny Beach was crowded with tourists and it was impossible to find a good place to lay one's blanket. On gray and cloudy days, the Baudelaires had the beach to themselves to do what they liked.

Violet Baudelaire, the eldest, liked to skip rocks. Like most fourteen-year-olds, she was right-handed, so the rocks skipped farther across the murky water when Violet used her right hand than when she used her left. As she skipped rocks, she was looking out at the horizon and thinking about an invention she wanted to build. Anyone who knew Violet well could tell she was thinking hard, because her long hair was tied up in a ribbon to keep it out of her eyes. Violet had a real knack for inventing and building strange devices, so her brain was often filled with images of pulleys, levers, and gears, and she never wanted to be distracted by something as trivial as her hair. This morning she was thinking about how to construct a device that could retrieve a rock after you had skipped it into the ocean.

Klaus Baudelaire, the middle child, and the only boy, liked to examine creatures in tidepools. Klaus was a little older than twelve and wore glasses, which made him look intelligent. He was intelligent. The Baudelaire parents had an enormous library in their mansion, a room filled with thousands of books on nearly every subject. Being only twelve, Klaus of course had not read all of the books in the Baudelaire library, but he had read a great many of them and had retained a lot of the information from his readings. He knew how to tell an alligator from a crocodile. He knew who killed Julius Caesar. And he knew much about the tiny, slimy animals found at Briny Beach, which he was examining now.

Sunny Baudelaire, the youngest, liked to bite things. She was an infant, and very small for her age, scarcely larger than a boot. What she lacked in size, however, she made up for with the size and sharpness of her four teeth. Sunny was at an age where one mostly speaks in a series of unintelligible shrieks. Except when she used the few actual words in her vocabulary, like "bottle," "mommy," and "bite," most people had trouble understanding what it was that Sunny was saying. For instance, this morning she was saying "Gack!" over and over, which probably meant, "Look at that mysterious figure emerging from the fog!"

Sure enough, in the distance along the misty shore of Briny Beach there could be seen a tall figure striding toward the Baudelaire children. Sunny had already been staring and shrieking at the figure for some time when Klaus looked up from the spiny crab he was examining, and saw it too. He reached over and touched Violet's arm, bringing her out of her inventing thoughts.

"Look at that," Klaus said, and pointed toward the figure. It was drawing closer, and the children could see a few details. It was about the size of an adult, except its head was tall, and rather square.

"What do you think it is?" Violet asked.

"I don't know," Klaus said, squinting at it, "but it seems to be moving right toward us."

"We're alone on the beach," Violet said, a little nervously. "There's nobody else it could be moving toward." She felt the slender, smooth stone in her left hand, which she had been about to try to skip as far as she could. She had a sudden thought to throw it at the figure, because it seemed so frightening.

"It only seems scary," Klaus said, as if reading his sister's thoughts, "because of all the mist."

This was true. As the figure reached them, the children saw with relief that it was not anybody frightening at all, but somebody they knew: Mr. Poe. Mr. Poe was a friend of Mr. and Mrs. Baudelaire's whom the children had met many times at dinner parties. One of the things Violet, Klaus, and Sunny really liked about their parents was that they didn't send their children away when they had company over, but allowed them to join the adults at the dinner table and participate in the conversation as long as they helped clear the table. The children remembered Mr. Poe because he always had a cold and was constantly excusing himself from the table to have a fit of coughing in the next room.

Mr. Poe took off his top hat, which had made his head look large and square in the fog, and stood for a moment, coughing loudly into a white handkerchief. Violet and Klaus moved forward to shake his hand and say how do you do.

"How do you do?" said Violet.

"How do you do?" said Klaus.

"Odo yow!" said Sunny.

"Fine, thank you," said Mr. Poe, but he looked very sad. For a few seconds nobody said anything, and the children wondered what Mr. Poe was doing there at Briny Beach, when he should have been at the bank in the city, where he worked. He was not dressed for the beach.

"It's a nice day," Violet said finally, making conversation. Sunny made a noise that sounded like an angry bird, and Klaus picked her up and held her.

"Yes, it is a nice day," Mr. Poe said absently, staring out at the empty beach. "I'm afraid I have some very bad news for you children."

The three Baudelaire siblings looked at him. Violet, with some embarrassment, felt the stone in her left hand and was glad she had not thrown it at Mr. Poe.

"Your parents," Mr. Poe said, "have perished in a terrible fire."

The children didn't say anything.

"They perished," Mr. Poe said, "in a fire which destroyed the entire house. I'm very, very sorry to tell you this, my dears."

Violet took her eyes off Mr. Poe and stared out at the ocean. Mr. Poe had never called the Baudelaire children "my dears" before. She understood the words he was saying but thought he must be joking, playing a terrible joke on her and her brother and sister.

"'Perished,'" Mr. Poe said, "means 'killed.'"

"We know what the word 'perished' means," Klaus said, crossly. He did know what the word "perished" meant, but he was still having trouble understanding exactly what it was that Mr. Poe had said. It seemed to him that Mr. Poe must somehow have misspoken.

"The fire department arrived, of course," Mr. Poe said, "but they were too late. The entire house was engulfed in fire. It burned to the ground."

Klaus pictured all the books in the library, going up in flames. Now he'd never read all of them.Mr. Poe coughed several times into his handkerchief before continuing. "I was sent to retrieve you here, and to take you to my home, where you'll stay for some time while we figure things out. I am the executor of your parents' estate. That means I will be handling their enormous fortune and figuring out where you children will go. When Violet comes of age, the fortune will be yours, but the bank will take charge of it until you are old enough."

Although he said he was the executor, Violet felt like Mr. Poe was the executioner. He had simply walked down the beach to them and changed their lives forever.

"Come with me," Mr. Poe said, and held out his hand. In order to take it, Violet had to drop the stone she was holding. Klaus took Violet's other hand, and Sunny took Klaus's other hand, and in that manner the three Baudelaire children-the Baudelaire orphans, now-were led away from the beach and from their previous lives.

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The Bad Beginning: Book the First (A Series of Unfortunate Events) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 887 reviews.
greeninoakpark More than 1 year ago
I bought the Lemony Snicket book 1 to get motivated to continue with my desire to write my own children's story. Surprisingly, I am hooked! I read through book one and couldn't wait to get book 2! I am now on the 4th in the series and look forward to reading each and every one! I won't miss a book! They are fun and great reading for ALL ages. So get started and enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At first I didn't really like the series but then after I finished the first chapter I got hooked into the book on the nook.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read the frist two books and watched the movie (books 1-3). It is awesome.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading the sad tales. If you dont like sad books, dont read these ones.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The bad beginning is a great beginning to the series. It is full of excitement action and mystery. If you arent someone who likes fiction than you will still love this series. Even though it may get a little confusing along the way. Lemony Snicket really describes the pain and dissapointment the bauldelaires are dealling with.A series of unfortunate events is one of the best series you will ever read and i mean it. Lemony Snicket deserves a thumbs up!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best bookkk!!!!!!its the bomb digetty.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The series of unfortunate event follows the lives of the Bauldelair orphans. They became orphans when their parents died in a mysterious fire, leaving them an enormous fortune. Now Violet the eldest, and the inventor of the family, Klaus,the middle child and book worm, and Sunny, the youngest one with a passion for bitting, must go to live with there closest relative (who they don't at all know) Count Olaf. They don't get the greatest first impression of him, and he only gets worse. Does Count Olaf really care about the kids, or is he just after the money? I highly recomend this amazing series that will take on a journy and make you feel like your part of the story. I will admit that i became obbsessed with this book just like Klaus.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book. I am proud to say that i'm hooked to fantasy books now. Before, I refused to read any book that looked like fantasy. I opened the book thinking it be the most boring book ever not knowing that I, later that day would not get off the couch until I finished the book. I really liked the plot. I enjoyed the part when Klaus figured out the evil plan. I am on book 7 now and I will not stop reading until I finish the series. Who knows? Maybe you'll read the series!?!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is Very Finely Described with Vindictive, Fairly Dreadful people. If you lived in a Village Full of Demons, I wouldn't read this book, I would Valliantly Flee to a Distant land. If you were a Vile, Famous Delinquent, I guess you could read this book, but it is a Veering Flimsy Drive down to the road of justice. If you are a member of an organization that is for a noble cause, then this could be a Valuable, Fine Device to use for information. If you'd excuse me, I need to go Vacuum the Fairly Dusty carpet.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read all the series and loved them. But the very end, the 13th, was very surprising! Any way great book you guys should definitly read them!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i loved this book but it is also very sad one part brakes my heart. count olaf should have been arrested inthe begging of the book not at the end. i do not want to give away any more of the book but you should read it. you should also read the rest of the series if you do not want to cry. i almost did in the middle of book 1. this book is a 5 star book. from unknown ( sorry for not saying my name.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I never thought that I would even lay a finger on this series because of the weird covers but I am so glad that I read the overview! I read this series called The Secret Series and I loved it! The thing that I loved the most about it was that the author talked to the reader and he put his thoughts and feelings in the story. When I saw the dear reader part in the overview I knew that I would love this series because the auther talks to the reader. I was sooo right!!! I ended up loving the first book and am trying to get the second!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So good I want to read book 2#! I like books happy endings but for a book with a sad ending it's really good!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is not the best book I have ever read but I do recomend it for grades three andup
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think that you shold read this book in my opion the sieas is like a mix of villonly, heros,and mrder
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book i have ever read i read them all the time my friend told me about them and soon evetybody was reading this totally read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The series is so good that I read all 13 books twice. They are about Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire. Their parents died in a house fire when they were 16, 14, and an infant, respectively. The fire killed their parents and destoyed their family's large home, and as a result, they were sent to live with their relative, Count Olaf. Count Olaf is an evil, greedy man who only wanted the children so he can steal their fortune, which the orphans cannot claim until Violet turns 18. Olaf repeatedly comes up with plans to try to seize the orphans' money, but the children outsmart him, even in the strangest of situations. Violet is a bright inventor, Klaus is an avid bookreader, and Sunny likes to bite things (which has helped them from time to time). There is a lot of witty humor and action throughout the books, and it is very thrilling, but it's not scary or gory or anything like that. Good for children and teens 9+. Be sure to remember that there are 12 more books after this one, so if you like this one, READ THE OTHERS TOO. Highly recommended. I seriously cannot stress this enough.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Has anybody seen the tv series? When is the next season coming out? Because l cant wait!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is called the bad begining but to me, it was the opposite of horrific! If you want to read a happy book where the princess and prince fall in love, or little bo peep finds her sheep, I don't advise you to read this, but if you DO like action and misery I reccomend this. The Baulderies are brillant but misfourtunate. And to the author: I'm very sorry for your loss, may Beatrice rest in peace, and you have my blessings. Count Olaf is greedy and evil, but you never know what will happen. Violet, the eldest child is a mesmorizing inventor. She always ties her hair up in a ribbon so she can think. Some say she could be the worlds best inventor. Klaus, the middle bauldere and the bookworm. As you probably know, every story has that one person who is smart, and helps to solve everything. In this story thats Klaus. He is smart and kind, and is always reading about something. Sunny, shes smart for her age. She also loves to bite. This book is amazing and I reccommend it to anyone. -TheAbsolGaming PS If you wanna chat friend me on roblox. My username: TheAbsolGaming
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket tells the story of 3 extremely unlucky orphans- Violet, who is the oldest at 14 and the inventor of the trio, Klaus, who is the middle child at 12 and the 'brain' of the trio, and finally, Sunny who is the youngest at 1, and the biter of the trio. The three Baudelaires' parents are killed in their mansion when a horrible fire takes priority, and the children are informed of it on a gloomy day while on Briny Beach. Mr. Poe, the children's caretaker at the moment is required to bring them to Count Olaf, one of the family's distant cousins. There, he is discovered to have a mysterious tattoo of an eye on his ankle and only one scraggly eyebrow. He claims that he writes great scripts for him and his theater troupe, and that they perform them exceptionally. But Count Olaf's personality is nothing to what he says he is. He is a villain that hopes to write a mischevious play to make Violet marry him so he can inherit the Baudelaire fortune that the orphans' parents left for them, and Violet would have access to when she turned 18. In the midst of thud book, Count Olaf and his troupe lock Sunny in a tower, make the Baudelaires make a magnificent dinner (then reprimand them after making it), and a fake marriage signing. This book is not one to be read at least an hour before bedtime, though it is written thoughtfully and carefully. I recommend it to ages 9 through 13. If younger, parent discretion is advised. Asrianna Lawson, Honors English Middle School Newspaper Writer
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When i was in fifth grade i read the first book and it was not bad. I decided to get the next book in the series and it was good. I read all the books in the series in 3 weeks. I went up to my teacher and told her about the books. She recommended the books to everybody in the fifth grade. So i recommend these books to everybody between the ages 9-12. Hope you enjoy as i did. Remember, this book has a message!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would highly recomend this book i read this book in third grade i loved all the action these book were the only ones i read in grade school <3
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read this whole series and it is by far one of the greatest kids book series I'v ever read. I highly suggest it. You will fall in love with the suspense, sadness, and trickery of these books. I hope whoever reads this series next loves it as much as I did. Such a great read for all ages!;-) ^&bull;^
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a charming funny scary read. It talks about three orpans named Klaus,Violet and Sunny. After their parents die in a fire they go to live with Count Olaf. A mysterious man with evil plot. Will it mean danger for the children or happiness? Read this book to find out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this in real book form and it was really good. The one thing i don't like about these books is they are so expensive on Nook !! I hate that !! Very food book though,you should deffinently read it !!!