Book #32

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

One night in the reform club, Phileas Fogg bets his companions that he can travel across the globe in just eighty days. Breaking the well-established routine of his daily life, he immediately sets off for Dover with his astonished valet Passepartout. Passing through exotic lands and dangerous locations, they seize whatever transportation is at hand—whether train or elephant—overcoming set-backs and always racing against the clock.

Since finishing this story, I’ve asked a number of people what springs to mind when I say Around the World in Eighty Days. They all said they think of a hot air balloon - didn’t Phileas Fogg travel around the world in a hot air balloon? I am here to tell you there is no hot air balloon in this novel. I was gobsmacked. He travels by rail, road, sea, even on an elephant at one point. No hot air balloon, but there’s a hot air balloon on the bloody cover. I did investigate this phenomenon, but the results are too ridiculous to share.

Anyway, I did enjoy this, and there was quite a bit here I wasn’t expecting. The eighty day limit of traversing the globe is a condition of a bet Fogg has with his cynical pals, creating an urgency which only manifests itself as dread and fear when we stumble into obstacles. Making things worse for Fogg, but much more delectable for readers, is the dogged detective on Fogg’s tail, hellbent on arresting him, but simply unable to obtain a warrant in one country before we skip off to the next.

It's a gorgeous light hearted romp across the world. We don’t see everything, and there are definitely a few passages which didn’t quite align with my morals. But Verne is an excellent storyteller, and despite the missing balloon, I’m glad I’ve read this one.