I have other versions of Around in the World in 80 Days from Audible and all are very good to excellent narrations, but Jim Dale's narration is the best by far! What an audiobook!
The production also enhances Mr. Dale's performance with very subtle moments of background music or locomotives that enhance the narration yet maintain this audiobook in its pure narrative form. Dale's characterizations are excellent and consistent.
Since listening to this version, I have searched for other audiobooks by Mr. Dale as well as other book productions by Listening Library and look forward to listening to these as well, so impressed was I by this version.
Everything about this audiobook is superlative. Many audiobooks include incidental music, but few include ambient noise (rushing water, trains, crowds), and fewer still have used it in such an unobtrusive way, as a further aid to experiencing (and enjoying) the story. (Why don't more publishers do this?) Jim Dale's narration is wonderful. But one thing I haven't seen mentioned here -- in fact it is only confirmed in the last few minutes of the audiobook -- is that it uses the delightfully breezy and new translation by Michael Glencross (2004, Penguin). That in itself is reason to celebrate. I'm a big Verne fan, but never cared much for this one; but now I'd have to say it's easily one of my favorites. I expect to return to this recording many times.
Jules Verne was fascinated by the technological innovations of his time. He read about the construction of the American transcontinental railroad and the Suez Canal, both completed in 1869. The railway crossing the Indian sub-continent was near completion and the White Star line began its trans Atlantic run with fast steamships in 1871. Verne wondered if a person could travel around the world in three months. How about 80 days?
Verne answered this question with his classic, "Around the World in 80 Days". The work was initially a series of newspaper installments, ending on December 22, 1872, the date Phileas Fogg is supposed to return to London. Fogg, a wealthy gentleman of leisure, makes a wager with his fellow members of the Reform Club that he can circumnavigate the world in 80 days. Fogg is precise about how long the trip will take, consistent with his obsession with clocks and regular routines. The club members think he's crazy and they'll win the wager.
Off Fogg goes with his manservant, Passepartout. Of course, this is much more than a routine trip. Fogg creatively deals with delays and cliffhangers as the days fly by. To boot, a Scotland Yard detective pursues Fogg on suspicion of having robbed the Bank of England. This is Verne at his best.
What a fun, escapist read (or listen) this is! The plot moves along breathtakingly. Jim Dale's narration was superb. I think that much credit should go to this particular translation into English from the original French. I compared some passages from this audio version with an e-book (in print) that was done by another translator. While the literal sense was the same, the language and nuance of this audio translation struck me as far superior.
The best way to describe this audio book is good fun. Some of Verne's books have trouble keeping the modern day reader excited or even interested, but Around the World still accomplishes it. It's light, easy, adventurous, and comical. This recording is particularly good because of the amazing talents of Jim Dale. He is absolutely the best out there.
About the audio file - no preset chapter breaks. Level 3 a bit 'tinny'. Jim Dale is terrific and a pleasure to listen as he works through the multitude of accents and personalities.
About the story - I missed this as a kid, it was already a legend. It's somewhat politically incorrect, but that makes it more fun. We found our selves laughing that "he did NOT just say that!" and it was a hoot to think about the Victorian perspective on world travel and the British Gentleman's culture. Very enjoyable to listen in a car during a journey.
The narration made this an outstanding read. Verne's writing style to me sometimes seems on a middle school level, but the narration made this a wonderful experience.
I don't think audio book reading could ever be better than this. For the art of acting, reading and expressing, I would give the book a five star. The story itself is truly joyful, witty, and the kind of humor it offers will remain in readers and listeners memory for long time. It's amazing how classical work can survive the test of time!
I started the listening and could not stop till I reached the end. It felt sad when I had to part with the book, as all the good things have to end some how.
I just love Jim Dale's voice. He brings this story to life. My only critism is that his "Frenchman" sounds a little German. Still, it was a thoroughly enjoyable listen.