Illustrator: Joseph Ciardiello
Series: Extraordinary Voyages #11
Published by The Reader's Digest Association on November 28, 1988 (first published 1873)
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‘To go around the world...in such a short time and with the means of transport currently available, was not only impossible, it was madness’
One ill-fated evening at the Reform Club, Phileas Fogg rashly bets his companions £20,000 that he can travel around the entire globe in just eighty days—and he is determined not to lose. Breaking the well-established routine of his daily life, the reserved Englishman immediately sets off for Dover, accompanied by his hot-blooded French manservant Passepartout. Travelling by train, steamship, sailing boat, sledge and even elephant, they must overcome storms, kidnappings, natural disasters, Sioux attacks and the dogged Inspector Fix of Scotland Yard—who believes that Fogg has robbed the Bank of England—to win the extraordinary wager.
Around the World in 80 Days was pretty much what I expected. Phileas Fogg makes a bet with his friends that he can travel around the world in 80 days and sets off with his newly-hired servant, Passepartout. Fogg is a calm, organized, rich man, and nothing throws him. It’s basically his money that lets him accomplish his aim. Passepartout has most of the adventures. It’s really more about the race against the clock than experiencing the countries they were travelling through. The story was first published in 1872 and it’s attitudes toward native cultures are definitely dated. It was interesting to see the view of the America West at that time, though.
The blurb makes it sound a bit more exciting than it is. Fogg is a bit too reserved, while Passepartout worries about everything that comes up, we know Fogg will make it work. He is too unflappable. In all honesty, Passepartout is my favorite character. He’s the one out in the towns, seeing the sites, interacting with merchants, getting into trouble. He makes a good companion for Fogg, since he is everything Fogg isn’t.
There’s a side plot with a Scotland Yard agent, Fix, who is following Fogg because he’s convinced Fogg’s a bank robber, which adds a bit to the story as he attempts to delay Fogg on several occasions. He’s obsessed with Fogg, but as they journey together, he comes to respect and like him too, I think.
It’s a short, fairly quick read and I’m glad I finally got around to it. I didn’t love it, but it was fine.