Friday, July 10, 2015

Book Review: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

I wanted a nice light read after the serious nature of A Tale of Two Cities, and since I'd always wanted to read Jules Verne but never taken the plunge, I picked this one up.

Around the World in Eighty Days follows the story of Phileas Fogg, a fairly eccentric English gentleman from the turn of the century. He goes to his club one day to play whist and starts on a conversation about how much transportation has changed in recent years and relates to his friends that a trip around the world can now be accomplished in only 80 days. The reform club members disagree with him, so Fogg makes a bet that he can accomplish the trip in that time frame. He immediately embarks with his servant, a Frenchman named Passepartout, in his best effort to complete the goal. The two run into several hardships along the journey, throughout all of which Fogg remains cool and collected saying, "It was accounted for," even though the others feel failure is eminent. They save the life of a princess in India, get arrested for unintentionally desecrating a holy shrine, get in a brawl at an American political rally, get attacked by Native Americans on the train, and much more. They are even followed around the world by a Scotland Yard detective who is convinced that Fogg is a bank robber, detaining them in England on the final day. In spite of all the set backs, they do manage to get back to the club in London by the last few seconds in the end.

This was just a fun little story. I can see why it was so popular when it was published. Each place that the team stops to change modes of transportation, Verne gives some history about some particular interest in that region before continuing with the story. The thing I found really interesting though is that ... they never ride in a hot air balloon! Every film made of this story or even several cover designs of the book itself show the travelers in a hot air balloon, but there is no balloon in the book at all. So strange. I very much enjoyed this little escape of a read :) I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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