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Around the World in Eighty Days is Jules Verne’s classic adventure tale. I was thoroughly entertained as I read about Phileas Fogg and his servant, Passepartout, attempting to win a high stakes bet.
I read Around the World in Eighty Days as part of the 2021 Thoughtful Reading Challenge. July’s challenge was to read a book by a French author. Because I didn’t have time to thoroughly research contemporary authors I went with a classic, and I’m glad I did.
The premise is this: Phileas Fogg, a very wealthy and stoic British gentleman, accepts a challenge from some fellow club members to traverse the globe in eighty days, a real challenge in 1872. His entire fortune is at stake, but he seems undaunted throughout the journey, even in the face of time-consuming setbacks. His travel companion, on the other hand, is the emotional one. Passepartout, Fogg’s French manservant, begins the unexpected trip the day he’s hired and provides some comic relief throughout the story.
They head east around the world, which takes them to places like Egypt, India, Hong Kong, Japan, and America. Verne describes many of the scenes in great detail, which was mostly very interesting even though, or maybe because, the world has changed substantially since the book was written. Passepartout is amazed by everything he sees along the way and even gets into some mischief because he doesn’t understand the different cultures. In contrast, Fogg is indifferent to everything, preferring to play whist rather than admire the scenery.
The trip is not smooth sailing. It’s complicated by a case of mistaken identity, the rescue of a damsel in distress, rough seas, marauding Sioux Indians, unreliable train routes, and even giant herds of buffalo. All of this, of course, adds to the excitement and suspense. Up until the end, the reader isn’t sure if they will meet their deadline, and the story ends with a flourish.
I really liked Around the World in Eighty Days. Like most classics, the writing took a while to get used to, but it ultimately wasn’t a distraction. It’s very entertaining and I can see why it has staying power.
If you’ve read Around the World in Eighty Days, please let me know what you thought. And if you read a book by a French author this month, please share!
**Reminder – August’s challenge is to read a book with the sun on its cover.