Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman

I received a galley of this novel from NetGalley for review. This in no way affected my opinions.

Eighty Days was a fascinating account of two women's race around the world, that of Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland.

The race was not intended to be a race at all. The idea was to outdo the fictional character Phileas Fogg's eighty day journey around the world, an idea that Bly had been pressing to the World, the paper in which she worked. She was finally given the ok, and preparations had been set. However, The Cosmopolitan caught wind of this and decided to send one of their own, Elisabeth Bisland, to race Bly. Bly set out east, and Bisland set out west.

There's no doubt that Bly's quest was the most reported on. I honestly did not know about Bisland until I came across this book. I knew all about Bly's trip around the world, but was flabbergasted that there was another woman doing the very same thing at the very same time.

The book chronicles both women's trips around the world, the ups and downs, and the unexpected road blocks. It also gives insights to the places and people both women encountered.

Both women completed their journeys, with Bly beating Bisland by a few days. Bly had become a celebrity, while Bisland gained only a little fanfare.

However, one thing they both accomplished was what they did for other women, especially in the field of journalism. More women were hired in the aftermath of the race, and the 'new American woman' was established.

One thing that bogged the book down was the endless detail. The text would sometime veer off into pages and pages about the city either women was visiting. It was nice and all, but it felt like way too much. I skipped much of this, honestly. It seemed as though there was not enough to write about either woman's trip to make a whole book, hence all the unnecessary detail.

Still, this was an informative book, and like me, you can always skip the stuff I did.