Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Around the World in Eighty Days & Five Weeks in a Balloon

Title: Around the World in Eighty Days & Five Weeks in a Balloon

Series: None

Year: 1873 (first published)

Author: Jules Verne

Around the World in Eighty Days: One ill-fated evening at the Reform Club, Phileas Fogg rashly bets his companions £20,000 that he can travel around the entire globe in just eighty days - and he is determined not to lose. Breaking the well-established routine of his daily life, the reserved Englishman immediately sets off for Dover, accompanied by his hot-blooded French manservant Passepartout. Travelling by train, steamship, sailing boat, sledge and even elephant, they must overcome storms, kidnappings, natural disasters, Sioux attacks and the dogged Inspector Fix of Scotland Yard - who believes that Fogg has robbed the Bank of England - to win the extraordinary wager. Around the World in Eighty Days gripped audiences on its publication and remains hugely popular, combining exploration, adventure and a thrilling race against time. (from Goodreads)

Five Weeks in a Balloon: There was a large audience assembled on the 14th of January, 1862, at the session of the Royal Geographical Society, No. 3 Waterloo Place, London. The president, Sir Francis M -, made an important communication to his colleagues, in an address that was frequently interrupted by applause. This rare specimen of eloquence terminated with the following sonorous phrases bubbling over with patriotism: "England has always marched at the head of nations" (for, the reader will observe, the nations always march at the head of each other), "by the intrepidity of her explorers in the line of geographical discovery." (General assent). "Dr. Samuel Ferguson, one of her most glorious sons, will not reflect discredit on his origin." ("No, indeed!" from all parts of the hall.) (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
(Around the World in Eighty Days)
~ Phileas Fogg
~ Passepartout
~ Aouda
~ Detective Fix

(Five Weeks in a Balloon)
~ Samuel Fergusson
~ Dick Kennedy
~ Joe

Review: Well, well! Would ya look at that! This here's a two-for-one special review! To be honest, I thought I should split this up since it is technically *two* reviews, but couldn't persuade myself to do so. After all, it's all in one book. While I love my copy, it's kinda a shame I don't have the stories separately. *shrugs* Anywho...

Around the World in Eighty Days was awesome and far better than I had ever hoped! I loved it so much, I read the entire thing and went around the world myself in less than ten hours. *nods* Yup. This was my first-ever, unabridged Jules Verne, and I was not disappointed in the least. Phileas Fogg was an admirable hero, and Passepartout was the epic sidekick/servant. It's non-stop adventure from page one, and the ending is completely unexpected and wonderful. One of my absolute favorite quotes from this book described Passepartout -- His hair, which was brown, was somewhat ruffled. If the sculptors of antiquity knew eighteen ways of dressing Minerva's locks, Passepartout knew but one for the disposal of his: three strokes of a large toothcomb, and the operation was over.

Five Weeks in a Balloon was a bit more of a mouthful. Don't get me wrong; I still really enjoyed it, but the idea of going around the world, to me, was much more interesting than flying over a jungle and desert strewn continent. Dr. Fergusson merely wanted to go over Africa in a balloon, not around the world, and he leisurely allows the balloon to float how it will. But many unexpected happenings send some excitement into the trip. Lions await at yearned-for oases in the desert; treacherous birds and native arrows threaten to throw the balloon out of the sky. Joe was my favorite character, with his loyalty, sudden love of gold, and willingness to sacrifice his own interests so that his master (Fergusson) could get the greater gain. For those who love the culture/geography of Africa, or aeronautics, or a good adventure, or if you just enjoy Jules Verne, then you should read this book. 

Advisory: A bit of language; also some violence. FWiaB contains some descriptions of the African tribes Dr. Fergusson and his partners encounter, and they stray toward the unpleasantly graphic. While I realize cannibals and warring tribes are not light topics, do be warned that Jules Verne does not take them lightly. Those particular chapters are not for the faint-of-heart.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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