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On November 14, 1889, Nellie Bly, the crusading young female reporter for Joseph Pulitzer’s World newspaper, left New York City by steamship on a quest to break the record for the fastest trip around the world. Also departing from New York that day - and heading in the opposite direction by train - was a young journalist from The Cosmopolitan magazine, Elizabeth Bisland. Each woman was determined to outdo Jules Verne’s fictional hero Phileas Fogg and circle the globe in less than eighty days. The dramatic race that ensued would span 28 thousand miles, captivate the nation, and change both competitors’ lives forever.
The two women were a study in contrasts. Nellie Bly was a scrappy, hard-driving, ambitious reporter from Pennsylvania coal country who sought out the most sensational news stories, often going undercover to expose social injustice. Genteel and elegant, Elizabeth Bisland had been born into an aristocratic Southern family, preferred novels and poetry to newspapers, and was widely referred to as the most beautiful woman in metropolitan journalism. Both women, though, were talented writers who had carved out successful careers in the hypercompetitive, male-dominated world of big-city newspapers. Eighty Days brings these trailblazing women to life as they race against time and each other, unaided and alone, ever aware that the slightest delay could mean the difference between victory and defeat.
A vivid real-life re-creation of the race and its aftermath, from its frenzied start to the nail-biting dash at its finish, Eighty Days is history with the heart of a great adventure novel. Here’s the journey that takes us behind the walls of Jules Verne’s Amiens estate, into the back alleys of Hong Kong, onto the grounds of a Ceylon tea plantation, through storm-tossed ocean crossings and mountains blocked by snowdrifts twenty feet deep, and to many more unexpected and exotic locales from London to Yokohama. Along the way, we are treated to fascinating glimpses of everyday life in the late 19th century - an era of unprecedented technological advances, newly remade in the image of the steamship, the railroad, and the telegraph. For Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland - two women ahead of their time in every sense of the word - were not only racing around the world. They were also racing through the very heart of the Victorian age.
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
I would not recommend to a friend. There was so much potential for this book. Excellent subject matter! I really had to concentrate to stay interested in the book. It was so dry. I think it could have been terrific if told in the first person by each woman. The things these woman saw was described adequately. What was missing for me was the emotion they felt. <br/><br/>Can you imagine how excited, terrified, liberated, angry, fortunate they must felt? I wanted to hear about how they felt as they saw these things. And they were two totally different woman who had 2 totally different experiences. I could not remember which woman's trip was being told. They both sounded exactly the same, outside of physical location.<br/><br/>Because this story never reached into their brains, I felt bored. It was more of a travel log than a story. I didn't feel any desire to be these woman, know them or lived in the period. To me, that makes a historical novel a success, I should wish I could have been right there. With this book, I just kept checking to see how much time I had left to be done.
Would you ever listen to anything by Matthew Goodman again?
What about Kathe Mazur’s performance did you like?
I would not have even finished the book except for her pleasant performance.
Could you see Eighty Days being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?
Yes, it would be better as a movie than it was a book. A director would give the woman some emotion and opinions.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World, by Matthew Goodman is a darn good story, full of little known facts, offering a more than a snapshot of late nineteenth century America and the journalism and prejudices of the time, and providing a bit of a cautionary tale.
While the story of Nelly Bly’s “race” around the world is the center of the book, there's good context provided of the run-up to the event. Indeed, much of the meat of the book is life after the race. I hadn't known about Elizabeth Bisland (who’s actually a much more likable character – especially in the sense that I’d have liked to have been like her).
PS: Nelly did the trip with but one dress. Elizabeth a good bit more!
There are beautiful descriptions of the places that Nelly and Elizabeth visit and an interesting perspective on how steam power (ships and trains) changed the world so quickly.
Much of the book takes place after the race, and does drag a bit; there’s some repetition and the book could probably have been edited a little more firmly, but the way it addresses celebrity, and its impact on Nelly Bly’s life, is thought-provocative. B+
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
What did you love best about Eighty Days?
I found that I was surprised most how the world around me has changed so much from 1883 to now.....and how these two women lived, whether at home or abroad. How lucky I am.
What did you like best about this story?
I loved hearing about the foreign countries and thier customs, etc.
What does Kathe Mazur bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Well, it's more of a first hand account, rather than just a news story.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
I didn't have an extreme reaction, but they certainly were much more brave about thier undertaking than I would be even in the present day. I neither laughed nor cried, I was more surprised at thier gumption! And some of the people they spoke with...Mr & Mrs Jules Verne and Mr. Pulitzer among others. A very interesting book, for sure!
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
As I listened to this book, I was amazed at the careers both women had and upset with myself for not knowing at least Nelly Bly. I started researching both women on the net during and after reading this book. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any historical fans.
this book is very long, but describes in beautiful detail, the excitement of adventure in traveling around the world to beat the clock before the invention of planes, or phones. Two women, who travel alone, when women were not thought of highly. There is adventure, but also a complete biography of both women. I loved it.
Would you consider the audio edition of Eighty Days to be better than the print version?
I have no idea, what I would like to see available are more tales of intrepid, female Victorian<br/>travelers.
Matthew Goodman has written a fascinating biography of two women who managed to travel around the world alone at a time when women were generally prevented from achieving anything alone. One traveled eastward, the other westward, both at the behest of their bosses in an effort to improve circulation of the publications for which the women worked. The adventures and experiences of these women were similar and different because the women themselves were alike but also different in many ways. Listeners will "see" the world in 1889-1890 through the eyes of Bly and Bisland while getting a biography of all Americans at that same time and seeing the rise of the United States foreshadowed in their experiences and lives. I highly recommend the story and the narrator, Kathe Mazur. I'll be looking for more books written by Goodman and others narrated by Mazur.
If you could sum up Eighty Days in three words, what would they be?
Adventurous. Informative, Entertaining
Who was your favorite character and why?
Nellie Bly - Reminds me of myself but with more gutts.
Would you listen to another book narrated by Kathe Mazur?
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
When she met with Jules Verne in France
Any additional comments?
I read a lot of history, especially American history, but I was barely aware of Nellie Bly and her story until I read this book. I really enjoyed reading it. An easy and engaging listen.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
I didn't love this book although I really wanted to. The author seemed more interested in the general history of the time than in his main story line. There were far too many segues and non-sequitors for my liking, and there was something in the tone that made me think the author strongly disliked his subjects. At the end of the day this is too long to be worth picking up as a filler and probably not worth reading for fun.
2 of 4 people found this review helpful