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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

The Ersatz Elevator

Reviewed: October 1, 2002
By: Lemony Snicket
Publisher: HarperCollins
259 pages, $14.95

In the sixth volume of A Series of Unfortunate Events, the Baudelaire orphans are once again in a new place, under the care of a new set of guardians. Jerome and Esme Squalor live in posh circumstances which belie their surname. Jerome is a nice enough fellow and seems actually to care about Violet, Klaus and Sunny  Esme, on the other hand, is "the city's sixth most important financial advisor", a rather shallow person who is obsessed with being "in".

The Squalors were acquainted with the orphans' parents. Jerome would have been happy to take them in right after the fire which made them orphans, but he has no spine and is never prepared to argue with his wife, who was only willing to look after the kids once orphans became an "in" thing.

The Baudelaires have been saddled with poor guardians ever since the death of their parents. The legal guardian, Mr. Poe, keeps shuffling them around into situations that just put them into more trouble. Trouble always come to them in the shape of Count Olaf, an unscrupulous relative who wants to get control of the family fortune.

In the present situation, the orphans have to overcome the obstacles of a fake elevator, a devious auction and the betrayal of a guardian. You wonder how they manage to survive at all, but somehow they do.

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