The most surprising aspect of this book to me was the lack of emotion. Phileas Fogg was so straight-faced. Nothing fazed him. Everything had been anticipated. Did he ever smile? Or laugh? Or worry that he couldn’t win the bet, even for just a second? Apparently not. His reactions – or lack of reactions – to everything took some of the on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense out of the book. To a certain degree, I appreciated that. This could have been a very stressful book to read (if you get overly involved, like I tend to do). Instead, I could just sit back and follow the adventures without being concerned. I have to admit, though, that that disappointed me a little. An around-the-world race should be a breathtaking , heart-stopping reading experience. Apparently Jules Verne and I have different opinions of this sort of reading experience.
Despite Phileas Fogg’s stoicism, I did enjoy reading this book. Passepartout was amusing, a occasionally clownish foil to Phileas Fogg. The actual journey and the places they visited were fascinating, even if they weren’t fully described. It’s always interesting to get a contemporary glimpse of a place a hundred years ago. Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is also on my Classics Club list, and I’m looking forward to seeing his take on that sort of voyage. In the meantime, I’ll just keep plotting my own around-the-world adventure.
By the way, two female reporters did attempt to follow in Phileas Fogg’s and Passepartout’s steps. You can read all about their journeys in Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman. And you can read my review of said book by clicking here.