Summary: Phileas Fogg is famous all around town for his robot-like precision. Never early, never late, he arrives exactly on time for everything. An important London newspaper publishes an article saying that, without any delays, traveling around the world is possible in no less than 80 days. After a discussion with some of his wealthy acquaintances, Fogg wagers over half of his fortune that journeying around the world in such a short amount of time is indeed possible. “I have a deposit of twenty thousand at Baring’s [Bank] which I will willingly risk upon it.” Wasting no time, he embarks on his quest with only his newly hired French servant, Passepartout, and a carpet bag containing 20,000 pounds (a fortune at that time – 1872, to be precise). Fogg and Passepartout travel to exotic and dangerous places, using boats, trains, sleds, even elephants (but never hot air balloons, as pictured on many covers) to transport them from destination to destination. The two adventurers join paths with beautiful Aouda and mysterious Mr. Fix as they race towards London by the 80-day limit.
Recommendation: This book is surely a page turner, to say the least. I felt like I was the one betting all my money every time Fogg’s determined gang was delayed or gained time. In stark contrast to the main character’s calm and precise demeanor, this classic is packed with action, suspense, and adventure. Verne focused on specific parts of the world, setting most of the action in India, China, the US, and the tumultuous oceans separating them. I loved hearing about the exotic jungles, vast plains, and Arctic expanses Fogg had to cross. The descriptions of landscapes are so vivid, it’s hard to believe Verne hasn’t actually been to all these places in person. Verne smoothly shifts from focusing on one character to another, giving the reader a window into the characters’ thoughts as they experience the adventure. I enjoy reading “classics” maybe more than I enjoy other books. They’re usually challenging to read and age-appropriate. Around the World’s language is easier to understand than other classics I’ve read. I recommended this book to my brother, who is in 5th grade, and he’s reading it right now. He’s hooked so far!
Favorite Passage: The chapter titles in classic books are the best. You’ll see what I mean.
- In Which Phileas Fogg Engages in a Direct Struggle with Bad Fortune
- In Which Certain Incidents Are Narrated Which Are Only to Be Met with on American Railroads
- In Which Passepartout Does Not Succeed in Making Anybody Listen to Reason