This started off a little slow, with all the boasting and detailing of bets of whether Phileas Fogg actually can make a trip around the world in eighty days. But once he got going and he got framed for stealing money that put Det. Fix on his trail, it got more interesting. Fogg also picks up a French servant, Passepartout, who is quite endearing and faithful to his employer. Fogg starts spending money like a politician on the campaign trail in order to win his bet, and the various obstacles he meets along the way are met with a cool head. A little too cool. Fogg was a hard nut to crack, but I still found myself more engaged with this story than with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. This one does have the same broad generalizations and stereotypical portrayals of any culture not English as 20K Leagues did, so fair warning there.
I actually didn't know much about this one before going in. Like with 20K Leagues, I knew of it and the general idea of what it was about, but not much else. The various methods Fogg takes to get around the world were interesting, if not downright absurd. There's this weird passage once they get to America where Passepartout listens to a Mormon elder lecturing about the church. Weird for me anyway, since I never expect to see Mormons portrayed in things yet I keep stumbling upon them in older works like this. I keep thinking that my Mormon upbringing gave me a skewed perception of how influential the church was at that time, but I guess not if first A.C. Doyle and now Jules Verne felt compelled to throw something in their books about the church for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
I thought the character of Aouda was pretty pointless, and it makes me wonder if Verne just didn't have much exposure to women. Also, the narrator Frederick Douglas, could not do a woman's voice convincingly at all and settled for talking in a falsetto for her parts. Thankfully (or offensively? LOL) she didn't have much to say so I didn't have to put up with it much. Speaking of the narrator, he read pretty slowly, but once I sped him up to 1.20 times the reading went more smoothly. (What did people do when books were on tape and couldn't be sped up except to fast forward, making it sound like the Micromachine man on helium? Progress, y'all!)