Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne. I did not expect to enjoy this book, let alone laugh my way through the book - but that's exactly what I did. Verne created some memorable characters and set them in a great plot with gentle drama and excitement - nothing too intense, but enough to keep the reader interested and entertained. Verne even throws in a little romance as a side dish to the story.
There are four main characters:
Phileas Fogg - the stoic, unflappable, Englishman who turns out to be a hero as well.
Passepartout - Fogg's French servant who travels the globe with his employer and almost causes Fogg to lose his bet.
Inspector Fix - the closest thing we have to a villain in the book, but who is really just doing his job.
Mrs. Aouda - who owes her life to Fogg (but really to Passepartout) and becomes the love interest.
Fogg, Passepartout, and Fix travel eastward around the globe, using all manner of vehicles, including an elephant in India (where they are joined by Mrs. Aouda), and a wind-powered sledge in the western United States. As someone who has spent quite a bit of time traveling around the world in modern ways (airplane, some train, and even a boat), I find the telling of his adventures to be amusing. To go through the thought process of, "If I miss this flight (or for Fogg, boat), then I can catch the next one at such-and-such a time and still get to [blank] before the next..." resonated with me.
I've read several reviews of this story and some people have called Fogg a flat character with whom they cannot relate. Others criticize the fact that there is no in-depth description of the various cities and countries that this traveling group passes through on their journey. However, I politely disagree with these assessments because Fogg could only have taken on this challenge if his character were as it was, and his change in attitude because of Mrs. Aouda's devotion would not be as noticeable had he been more personable from the beginning. The story wasn't intended to be a tour book of places telling you what to expect to see and where you should eat, because the main point is the pressure of time and the belief that one could, in fact, circumnavigate the globe in a mere 80 days. Enjoy the book for what it is - an easy-to-read novel (in my mind, a perfect read in a beach chair this summer!).
As a child, I remember watching the film version of this book with David Niven, but it did, of course, take liberties with the book (as most films do). However, now that I have read the book, I'd like to watch the movie again and see what all they added and what they kept from the book. If you're interested in buying either the book or the movie, you can purchase them from Amazon (Amazon Associates Links):
To review, here is my original 2010 Booking It List:
- The Bible (that won't be in a month, but in a year)
- One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
- The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - March
- Taliesin by Stephen R. Lawhead
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis - January
- Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
- Skating Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
- Becoming a Person of Influence by John C. Maxwell and Jim Dornan
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne - February
- An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott
- Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
My March Booking It selection is: The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle