|The Beatrice Letters|
September 5, 2006 (US)
The Beatrice Letters is a book by Lemony Snicket. It is tangential to A Series of Unfortunate Events, and was published shortly before the thirteenth and final installment. According to its cover, the book is "suspiciously linked to Book the Thirteenth," although the British edition merely states that it "contains a clue to Book the Thirteenth."
The book consists of thirteen letters, six from Lemony Snicket to Beatrice Baudelaire, six from Beatrice Snicket to Lemony Snicket, and one from Lemony to his editor. (A letter to the editor appears in every book in the main series, but this is the first time such a letter has been incorporated into the plot of one of the books.) While Lemony Snicket's letters are plainly written beginning from his childhood and ending shortly before Violet Baudelaire was born, the Beatrice writing to Snicket is apparently writing after the events of The End. The older Beatrice is the one referred to throughout A Series of Unfortunate Events by Snicket as his deceased love, and her identity as the mother of the Baudelaire children from the series is revealed in The Beatrice Letters, but the younger Beatrice's identity is not directly explained, apart from the statement that she also has some connection to Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. (In The End it is revealed that she is the daughter of Kit Snicket.)
The book contains twelve punch-out letters (of the alphabet, as opposed to correspondence, although the ambiguity is intentional), and each is mentioned in different, interesting ways. An example is that the first letter is an E, juxtaposed against a card from Snicket to Beatrice, in which a map Snicket had drawn forms an E. The punch-out cardstock letters appear to be an anagram of "Beatrice Sank," but they may also be arranged to spell "A Brae Snicket," and "Bear a Snicket."
- (Lemony Snicket to Beatrice Baudelaire #1) The first letter was sent on one of Lemony Snicket's personal cards, and written during his third period V.F.D. class. In this card, which was delivered to Beatrice, he apologized for embarrassing her in front of her friends and invited her to a "good cafe nearby that serves excellent root beer floats." He was eleven years old when he wrote the message on the card, which he noted on the card himself. The card is labeled "Lemony Snicket, Student of Rhetoric." The punch-out letter accompanying this letter is an 'E,' because there is a map that resembles an 'E' drawn on the card, presumably so that Beatrice can find the cafe to meet Lemony.
- (Beatrice Snicket to Lemony Snicket #1) In the second letter, written on a Wednesday, Beatrice Snicket, the child adopted by Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire is addressing Lemony, asking for him to please help her search for the three siblings from whom she has been separated. The punch-out letter accompanying this letter is an 'E,' like the first one, because in the margins, an 'E' has been scribbled, presumably by Lemony trying to figure out if the letter was forged by "some villain or other." (E. is the V.F.D. initial given to Esmé Squalor and Eleanora Poe, both of whom fit the description of a "villain.")
- (Lemony Snicket to Beatrice Baudelaire #2) In the third letter, written in the Year of the Snake, Lemony is contacting Beatrice because he misses her. Several things are revealed here: that V.F.D had a code class, and that Lemony attends this class with O. It can be assumed that this "O." is Count Olaf, as O. is referred to as a male and is described as "nothing but an annoyance," and as being "one eye-browed." This letter shows that Olaf's villainous nature began to form in his early age. It is also established in this letter that "Baticeer" is an anagram for "Beatrice," and that Beatrice once specialized in bat-training at the school. The punch-out letter accompanying this letter is an 'N,' for a doodle drawn on the letter which is supposed to represent a mountain, as in the letter he mentions that there is a climbing class of some sort that they will attend.
- (Beatrice Snicket to Lemony Snicket #2) In the fourth letter, written on February 28, Beatrice Snicket writes from a typewriter in Lemony Snicket's "small, dusty office, on the thirteenth floor of one of the nine dreariest buildings of the city." The letter states that she will follow a map that had been marked by Lemony in his office, to find his location and inquire about the whereabouts of her lost family. The punch-out letter accompanying this letter is an 'S,' for the 'S' shaped Lachrymose Leech paperweight on his desk, that Beatrice mentions, but does not recognize.
- (Lemony Snicket to Beatrice Baudelaire #3) In the fifth letter, written on Scriabin's Anniversary, it is revealed that the Duchess of Winnipeg is dead, and that the V.F.D. member R. is her daughter. It is also revealed here that The Daily Punctilio is an untrustworthy source of information, because although Lemony is an "assistant obituary spell-checker," he is not allowed to correct the headline which reads "Duchess of Winnipeg is Deaf." He also predicts that J. will be transferred to the Financial Times, which means that G., that foolish girl, will become the new fashion editor, which means that Lemony will probably be given the position of dramatic critic. While it is too difficult to determine what the 'J.' stands for, it is most likely Josephine Anwhistle. The 'G.' most likely stands for Geraldine Julienne, who is revealed in the book series to be a big fan of Esmé Squalor's "fashionable" outfits. The punch-out letter accompanying this letter is an 'I,' representing Beatrice's hatpin that she dropped off of the stage after her bows after a Friday performance of "My Silence Knot," signaling to Lemony that she would meet him later, as per usual.
- (Beatrice Snicket to Lemony Snicket #3) In the sixth letter, written at 4 p.m., Beatrice is writing to Lemony from a cave in which he stayed as a "brae-man." She ended up trading the R. Ring to a group of shepherds for a yak ride to the cave. The only thing left in the cave was the sheet of paper on which Beatrice wrote the letter. The punch-out letter accompanying this letter is a 'K,' which was written, by Lemony, in the corner of the paper.
- (Lemony Snicket to Beatrice Baudelaire #4) In the seventh letter, written two weeks after his previous letter, Lemony is writing to tell Beatrice that he misses her terribly. Lemony mentions that he "cannot bring [himself] to argue with E. or G., and in the afternoons [he] cannot remember to call L. 'O' or to call O. 'L.'" We can assume this E. is Eleanora Poe, as she works with Lemony and he is speaking of his work. G. has already been established as Geraldine Julienne. The O. that preferred to be called "L" refers to Olivia Caliban, who ran Caligari Carnival and used the name "Madame Lulu." The identity of the L. that preferred to be called "O" is unknown, but perhaps refers to Count Olaf, or the Enormous Androgynous Person. The punch-out letter accompanying this letter is an 'R,' as R. received this letter by accident. A small note from R. is attached to the letter, that says, "Beatrice- This letter was mistakenly delivered to me. Clearly, the bats need better trainers! Hope you're well. - R"
- (Beatrice Baudelaire to Lemony SnicketS #4) In the eighth letter, written on Victoria Day Eve, Beatrice is writing from a secretarial school, specifically a Business Letter Writing Class, taught by the same instructor that Lemony took his code writing class with. (She describes the same flat-footed instructor that Lemony did.) Beatrice continues, saying that she followed Lemony to the library, where he stood for nearly an hour staring into a glass case containing old documents on display for the "Staged Poetry: Sonnets by Actors and Actresses"' exhibit, which is where Beatrice Baudelaire's sonnet "My Silence Knot" was once located. In the letter to the editor at the end of the book, however, Lemony makes it clear that it is no longer there, having been refiled under Beatrice Baudelaire's name. The punch-out letter accompanying this letter is an 'A,' for the A that Beatrice Snicket received on her assignment for submitting her correspondence in the form of a business letter.
- (Lemony Snicket to Beatrice Beatrice #5) In the ninth letter, written at dusk, Lemony addresses Beatrice in anguish. Although Beatrice originally accepted his marriage proposal, she later wrote him a 200 page book telling him why she could not marry him after all. Lemony attempts, in his letter, to answer the thirteen questions she posed on page 189. Within the letter, Lemony makes use of Sebald Code, asking "Are you certain your co-star is one of us?" It would be assumed that this is referring to Olaf, but later in the letter he is disqualified from this possibility when Lemony writes, "I will love you if you marry someone else--your co-star, perhaps, or Y., or even O., or anyone Z. through A., even R." The punch-out letter accompanying this letter is a 'C,' for the shape created by a lock of Beatrice's hair that Lemony returned to Beatrice with his letter.
- (Beatrice Snicket to Lemony Snicket #5) The tenth letter, written "Midway through the Days of Awe," was written by Beatrice in her office in the Rhetorical Building. She is once again begging for Lemony's attention so that they can solve the mysteries of the Baudelaire orphans together. The punch-out letter accompanying this letter is a "T," representing the shape of a tool that Beatrice used to drill a hole in the floor of her office, to slip her letter through to Lemony's office.
- (Lemony Snicket to Beatrice Baudelaire #6) The eleventh letter is a telegram sent in late summer from Lemony to Beatrice soon after she was married to Bertrand Baudelaire, and became pregnant with Violet. There is a message of danger sent at the end, but all that can be seen is a waterlogged letter 'A.' For this reason, a punch-out letter 'A' accompanies the telegram. It cannot be confirmed whether or not this message ever reached Beatrice.
- (Beatrice Baudelaire to Lemony Snicket #6) The twelfth letter, written at cocktail time, is on a card the same size as the very first message that Lemony sent to Beatrice. It is labeled "Beatrice Baudelaire, Baticeer Extraordinare, The Rhetorical Building 14th Floor." This card holds only a short message, reminiscent of Lemony's first letter to Beatrice Baudelaire. After apologizing for embarrassing him, Beatrice asks Lemony to meet with her, as she was in the same restaurant as he was. There is no evidence of whether or not Lemony accepted or rejected the message, but the fact that it wasn't ripped in half (as Beatrice asked Lemony to do if he didn't want to meet her) may be proof that they did meet. The punch-out letter accompanying this message is a 'B', as Beatrice signed the message "B." rather than "Beatrice Baudelaire."
- The thirteenth letter, written "Today," is from Lemony to his editor, in which he explains the difficulty of trying to find the sonnet entitled "My Silence Knot." He also explains the difficulty of having to endure the memories associated with these letters by trying to put them in the right order. He does not sign this letter, like he usually does, and so it is actually considered the final note of the series.
My Silence Knot
After the Letter to the Editor, in the back cover of the book, is the page from the play that Beatrice Baudelaire (the mother) had acted in. The page contains the sonnet that Lemony found in the Letter to the Editor, My Silence Knot.
Besides containing letters of correspondence, The Beatrice Letters contains twelve punch-out letters that relate to certain letters of correspondence in the book.
The letters, in order, are E, E, N, S, I, K, R, A, C, T, A, and B. By rearranging these letters, one can spell: BEATRICE SANK.
At first it might appear that this refers to either Beatrice Baudelaire (Lemony's deceased love and the Baudelaires' mother) or Beatrice Snicket (Lemony Snicket's niece). But it is generally accepted to be referring to The Beatrice, a boat the Baudelaires took to and from the island.
How Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire survived this trip is unknown, but it is known that they made it to shore. It has been revealed that Beatrice Snicket did in fact survive, but whether she was able to establish contact with Lemony Snicket is not known, either.
The Beatrice Letters also contains a double-sided poster. One one side, The Beatrice can be seen shipwrecked against a large rock, along with a whisk, a spatula, a hair ribbon, a pair of glasses, and the boat's name plate which has broken in half. On the other side of the poster is the view from inside of a cave. A bowler hat, like the one Lemony Snicket wears in many of his pictures, sits on the floor. There are also books, including one opened to a page with pictures of cooking utensils; a picture of Klaus's glasses; a picture of Violet's hair ribbon; a canteen; a locked metal box; a pair of binoculars; and the other half of The Beatrice's name plate. These items make it appear as though someone like Beatrice Snicket had been researching the Baudelaire orphans there. The bowler hat makes it obvious that Lemony Snicket was there at some point in time, and perhaps this is the cave mentioned in "BB to LS #3."