Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I first read this book when I was growing up, and it was part of what sparked a life-long wanderlust in me. Imagine dashing around the world, speeding through countries on all modes of transport: trains, boats, elephants, and even a sled. Meeting people from different cultures, seeing others' traditions, and all the while taking on daring feats of heroism. That's what this book is for me. I listened to it on audiobook this time around, and Jim Dale is the very best choice for any English setting. If you didn't fall in love with his narration from the Harry Potter books, you are missing out. He adds an extra layer of special to this book.
In case you haven't read it, eccentric English millionaire Phileas Fogg takes a bet with his fellow chaps at London's Reform Club that he (or really anyone with the time and means) can travel around the world in 80 days.
Oh, you silly Reform Club members with nothing better to do than play Whist and make exorbitant bets with each other. Your life must be very different from mine. Fogg wagers 20,000 pounds that he will return by 8:45pm on Saturday, December 21, 1872. Fogg runs home, grabs his newly hired manservant Passeportout, and rushes off on his quest. Unbeknownst to them, a bank robber matching Fogg's description has robbed the Bank of England, and Detective Fix thinks he has his man in Fogg. He follows them on the trip around the world, deceiving both Passeportout and Fogg and causing delays along the way while he awaits his arrest warrant on British soil.
While racing across India, Passeportout and Fogg save a widowed princess names Mrs. Aouda from a ritual sacrifice and she joins them on the rest of their journey. Spoiler alert! They fall in love as they travel, and are married by the end. This part is the best, and part of my deep, abiding love for this book. Yes, I'm a sap. Obstacles abound, and both manmade and natural delays happen to take them off of their timetable. You will be on the edge of your seat as the party moves across the globe on a race against the clock. It's so good! I especially love the final chapter--such a satisfying ending.
Two things to keep in mind: This book was first published in 1873, and a lot has changed in nearly 150 years. Verne's portrayal of other cultures was quite normal for the time period. As with any classic literature, you need to set aside how society functions now while reading. It's an interesting glimpse into how things have changed, and a great reminder that travel is one of the best ways to expand your mind and thinking. The more you are exposed to people and new cultures, the more you realize how very similar we are at our cores, and learn to celebrate our differences. Travel, explore, learn. Expand your horizons and your perspective. Also, never, ever watch this movie. It is terrible, and a travesty to one of my favorite books.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>
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