If you are looking for a story about cheerful youngsters spending a jolly time at boarding school, look elsewhere. Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire are intelligent and resourceful children, and you might expect that they would do very well at school. Don’t. For the Baudelaires, school turns out to be another miserable episode in their unlucky lives.
Truth be told, within the chapters that make up this dreadful story, the children will face snapping crabs, strict punishments, dripping fungus, comprehensive exams, violin recitals, S.O.R.E., and the metric system.
It is my solemn duty to stay up all night researching and writing the history of these three hapless youngsters, but you may be more comfortable getting a good night’s sleep. In that case, you should probably choose some other book.
With all due respect,
I was incredibly excited to begin reading ‘The Austere Academy’ because the fifth book telling the story of the despair-filled lives of the Baudelaire orphans marks the beginning of a hole in my memory. From this tale of woe onwards the exact details of the events in the lives of the Baudelaire’s begins to fade from memory which means that from now on I get to read the books as if for the first time. I was so excited to re-embark on this journey that I read through the entirety of ‘The Austere Academy’ in one sitting, unable to pick the book down for even a moment.
In this dismal chapter of the story of the Baudelaire children, the orphans attend Prufrock Preparatory School, an appalling boarding school where the vile vice Principal Nero and his atrocious violin recitals hold court. Here, the Baudelaires come up against Count Olaf once more, but this time in the form of his newest disguise as the greatest gym teacher in the world, Coach Genghis. As Genghis, Olaf’s newest scheme was to make the poor children run laps late into the night until they were so exhausted they slept through their classes the next day which meant that they threatened to fail school and thus be expelled. Although Olaf’s plan was particularly well thought out in the sense that Mr Poe, even as useless as he is, would probably not have allowed the children to be left in the care of a random gym teacher he’d never heard of before. Probably.
But I think my favourite thing about this book is that it is the introduction of the Quagmire Triplets. Duncan and Isadora are two of my favourite characters in the series, and I always admired their optimism and fierce loyalty. Although, it has to be said that not all of their plans were the most helpful they still did all they could think of to help the Baudelaire’s from falling into Olaf’s clutches, even though they had known them less than two weeks. The thing I think I most liked about the Quagmire’s growing up is that they are both writers. I saw myself in Isadora and her poetry and Duncan and his journalism a lot more than I did with Violet’s inventions and Sunny’s biting, although I am a keen reader (although nowhere near as keen) like Klaus. I vaguely remember being incredibly upset as a child when I read about the Quagmire’s kidnap and even today I still feel unsettled. I honestly can’t remember what happens to them next or if we ever even see them again but I know that they were genuinely good and decent people and so it is only right we should lament any cruel fate that may have befallen them at the hands of Count Olaf.
I honestly can’t wait to start the next book, so I’ll just quickly round up by stating once again how much I liked this book, love this series and allow my excitement for the next chapter in the story of the Baudelaires to be the best summary of my feelings on this book.