Top positive review
Very Good Even If No Balloon Rides
on July 9, 2004
The story is about an eccentric Englishman named Phileas Fogg who makes a twenty thousand pound bet with five of his rich country club friends to travel around the world in eighty days with his trusty servant Passepartout a Frenchman. Along the way they have to overcome many obstacles. Fogg spends most of his fortune overcoming these obstacles and if they don't win the bet he will be ruined. There are some things however that even money can't overcome and several times Fogg is faced with a moral decision that if he pursues the right thing to do will significantly set him back on time.
Their travels take them through England, Paris, the Suez Canal, Egypt, India, Hong Kong, Japan, America, and Ireland. In India they rescue a princess who stays on with them throughout the rest of their journey and a love interest grows between her and Fogg. There is also another subplot involving a bank robbery in England where 55 thousand pounds have been stolen, and Fogg is considered to be the main suspect. A detective Fix is assigned to follow Fogg and to arrest him once he sets foot on English territory.
This book seems to be split into two parts. During the first part of the book when things are going smoothly the servant Passepartout seems to be the main character. At each port Fogg stays in his cabin and just focuses on the next leg of the trip while Passepartout ventures out and gives you a description of the land. It would seem a shame to travel all around the world and not pause to take in any of the sights as Fogg does. I found most of these early chapters pretty mundane and uneventful.
The subplot with Fix at times becomes annoying, and it isn't until they are all working towards the same goal, that this line of the story improves. I also found the exchange rate between dollars and pounds confusing at times. The pound must have been about four or five times greater than the dollar at the time this story was written. Fogg leaves England with around twenty thousand pounds and spends it seems over a hundred thousand dollars on the trip.
Later on as the story progresses and things start to go wrong the focus changes over to Fogg. Passepartout still does some heroic things, but Fogg takes charge and shows some redeeming qualities. The pace of the story quickens and becomes more enjoyable with a few skirmishes taking place in India and America. Fogg seems a different person upon returning to England, and his life is changed forever.
My wife has a framed poster that hangs on one of our walls with a collage of all of the movies that have won the best picture of the year award. "Around The World In Eighty Days" won the award in 1956, and the picture is represented in the collage with the main character Phileas Fogg and his trusty servant Passepartout taking a balloon flight. Based on this picture for years I always assumed the book was about a trip in a balloon around the world. I was surprised then to find out once I finally got a chance to read the actual book that they travel by boat, train, car, sled, and even elephant, but that they never travel by balloon. It turns out that the most memorable scene from the movie was made up by the director and added on to the story. The director seemed to have come to same conclusion that I did, that the written story itself was very good, but I was expecting something a little more.
The book was written in 1873. Jules Verne the author is a Frenchman. In this day and age it was pleasing to see both England and America looked upon in such a favorable light. Englishmen were portrayed as noble and Americans were portrayed as wild and adventurous.