Half Way Around the World in 40 Days {Book Club}

As I shared in the unveiling of our summer and fall reading, I had not heard of Around the world in 80 days by Jules Verne (remember it’s free on Kindle). I found it when I googled “TCK books” and it met the criteria of not too long, not too expensive, and interesting.

The author, Jules Verne, “wrote Around the World in Eighty Days during difficult times, both for France and for Verne. It was during the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871) in which Verne was conscripted as a coastguard; he was having financial difficulties (his previous works were not paid royalties); his father had died recently; and he had witnessed a public execution, which had disturbed him. Despite all this, Verne was excited about his work on the new book, the idea of which came to him one afternoon in a Paris café while reading a newspaper.”

Which, is how the story starts. The article was written in 1872 and the novel published in 1873.

In the Reform Club in London, Phileas Fogg and other club members read a newspaper article that said with the completion of a new railway section in India, the world could be circumnavigated in 80 days. A bet was placed, and the next day Phileas set off with his recently hired French valet, Passepartout.

Today we’ve read the first half of the book, but before we get to discussing it, I did some research.

1. If you want to use this book in homeschooling this website has something for every subject, including music!). Here are more lesson plan ideasIn my notes to myself I wrote: “Amy this PDF is good!!

2. I had never heard of whist before. But sure enough, it was a rather popular game. Here are the as explained in a short Youtube video.

3. This is the best map I could find on the journey:


4. Even though we can travel by air much faster, the time to travel the world if you do not fly hasn’t reduced as much as you might think. According to wikipedia:

If you don’t want any spoiler alerts, stop reading. 🙂

Have you ever traveled on a bet or spur of the moment, not for a medical or family emergency? I can think of two trips. When I was student teaching, my college basketball team was doing well in a tournament so two friends and I drove 17 hours one way in hopes of buying a ticket. It was a whirlwind weekend! Years later the president of my organization came to me and a co-worker and said, I need you to fly in two days to America and work in our headquarter office for two weeks.

Have you taken a trip around the world? If so, what was it like?!

Passepartout refusal to change his watch and still function on London time made me wonder about when you travel. Do you change your watch/mind when you get on the plane? Or wait until closer to your arrival?

Let’s talk about the three guy’s names, I didn’t notice anything about Aouda’s name. Did you?

Phileas Fogg—We are in a fog about whether he’s a thief and other aspects of his personality. I loved how he approached life “mathematically” when math is known for precision and clarity, the opposite of fog.

Passepartout—When I touched on his name on my kindle, the definition of his name means “a picture or photograph simply mounted between a piece of glass and a sheet of cardboard (or two pieces of glass) stuck together at the edges with adhesive tape.” So, a passepartout helps hold pieces together. We know Passepartout is loyal to Fogg, he’s stuck to him as an employer. Yet his is also friends with Detective Fix. Passepartout is the glue between Fogg and Fix.

Detective Fix—He needs the warrant to catch up with them as they travel so he can “fix” the problem of arresting Fogg.

That’s what I noticed, how about you?

What did you think about the quote at the end of chapter 7: “He sat down quietly to breakfast in his cabin, never once thinking of inspecting the town, being one of those English men who are wont to see foreign countries through the eyes of their domestics.”

How did Fogg, Passepartout, and Fix change as they traveled?

It was when they were in India that Fogg’s personality was described as mathematical and I highlighted it with a smile noting mathematical could be a personality trait and not just a skill.

When they were traveling in India, could you believe the railroad wasn’t completed yet?! Have you had an adventure like that when you traveled? I have ridden an elephant for “fun” (turns out I didn’t really like it). What unusual animals have you ridden? Fogg “endured with true British phlegm.”  I think I endured with true American fussing. 🙁

Seeing the suttee and suggesting rescuing the woman it was said to Mr. Fogg, “Why, you are a man of heart.” “Sometimes,” replied Phileas Fogg, quietly; “when I have the time.” That interchange stood out to me, because it contains a truth I recognize in myself and M’Lynn touched on in her post last week.

It also raised the question when we are in another culture: When do you step in and do something (like save Aouda) and when do you not step in? How do you decide? What difficult situations have you seen?

And that opium den. Yuck! So many themes to us traveling experts. What stood out to you?

See you in the comments! Amy

P.S. We’ll finish Around the world in 80 days by Jules Verne! Next week. Remember that the book to end this month is Right Ho, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse . . . free on Kindle.

Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 


  1. Joanna @ MumsKidsJesus.com June 7, 2016

    When you’re done reading ‘Around The World in 80 Days’, I highly recommend the film of the same name, starring Jackie Chan. It is so funny! Great story.

    1. Amy Young June 7, 2016

      I’d seen there were several movies made … and wasn’t sure where to start. THANK you 🙂

  2. Alisha June 7, 2016

    Because I knew this was going to be on VA’s book club, we started reading the book to our kids at bedtime.  It’s a lot of fun.  I’m excited to use some of the resources you mentioned here to excite them more about what is going on in the story.  The words though!  It’s quite challenging as a read-a-loud!

    I thought Passepartout meant “Passport” in French.  I don’t speak French though.  =)  Anyone else know?  I thought it was ironic as he seems to be more of a home-body if he had his own way.

    1. Amy Young June 7, 2016

      Alisha, because I read this on my Kindle, I highlighted words that were new to me. Um, there were quite a few. This is one advantage/disadvantage of reading books from other eras. I bet it is a bit challenging to read out loud! I was curious about Passepartout’s name too. I just used Google translate and passport in French is: passport. Clearly I am NO French expert, so others. Chime in :).

      1. Michele Womble June 9, 2016

        I like the feeling that he has his passport out.  (ready).  😉

  3. Phyllis June 7, 2016

    You convinced me to read along. I’ll start today, so I’ll be a bit behind. I’ve never read this book by myself, but I do have childhood memories of my father reading it to us. 🙂

  4. erinm June 7, 2016

    I love that Fogg does get involved. When I read this book the first time (in high school) I think I was shocked because a lot of the world tells us to never or rarely get involved, often to preserve cultural diversity (which let me say I’m a big fan of)…but how often will history look back and say “what? you let that happen? of course that was wrong!” only because it eventually got fazed out of the culture and seen as cruel? I remember my great aunt defending India’s caste system, saying, “at least everyone knows their place!” But she might not nowadays, as we regard it in our culture as systematically oppressive and unjust. I guess I just really like the characters because they do get involved, because it goes against their own sense of nobility/conscience, and they don’t worry about what others will think. Can I be so opinionated as to feel you can trust the Holy Spirit or your own gut a lot of the times to know that if something looks and feel unjust, it probably is?

    How often did Jesus go against his own home culture to help the downtrodden? I think that used to be a big part of Christianity (and I hope still is?)- we go against cultures (our own included) to help the oppressed, the poor, the downtrodden, the vulnerable. Even if what’s done is culturally acceptable and the people in power will get quite upset when you do step in.

    I love how he never changes his watch. I wouldn’t recommend it, but I love how he’s so steady in his ways and confident in his identity, in some regards. But I do think Passepartout holds not just the two men together but also sort of holds Fogg himself together, don’t you think?


    1. Amy Young June 7, 2016

      Erin, just this morning I read in Isaiah 59: The Lord looked and was displeased
      that there was no justice.
      16 He saw that there was no one,
      he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
      so his own arm achieved salvation for him,
      and his own righteousness sustained him.

      I agree — it was beautiful that Fogg did intervene. And in the intervening, he got others to join him. It IS one of the best parts of Christianity that God is inviting, nudging, convicting, and equipping us to bring the Kingdom of God into this world. I too, wonder what I will look around in five, ten, twenty years and wonder why I didn’t get more involved and advocate for change . . . or even see as wrong.

      And I think you’re on to something with Passepartout helping to hold Fogg together. It’s funny, because on the outside it is Fogg who is all “mathematical and calm” and Passepartout seems a bit scattered and fun loving. But in actuality, Passepartout is more the glue than he appears to be!

  5. Meegs June 7, 2016

    We’re in the midst of transition and this has been our car “read aloud” on our road trips thus far.  We’re hitting up both side of our state in the next month, which is more like all the way across in 6 hours than around the world in 80 days.  Even so, I’m excited about doing more than just looking at green and asphalt.  The four year old got into it on the first go, and well, the baby doesn’t have much of a choice 🙂   I’m thinking car readalouds might be a new tradition!  And I agree with Alisha…. the words!!

    1. Amy Young June 7, 2016

      I love it! Around the State. If you have a picture, upload it! We’d love to see it :). Actually, I’d love to see all of you reading. And summer read aloud books are the BEST! 🙂

  6. T June 7, 2016

    Just want to chime in that I love this book; I’ve read it several times in the last two years (when I first noticed it on our shelf!).  But!!  I cannot read it right before bed–it is too fast paced and stressful for them trying to keep their pace up…my adrenaline gets going and I cannot sleep afterwards!  🙂

    1. Michele Womble June 9, 2016

      T, I’m with you – I’ve read the book several times and I love it – and, I , too, can’t read it before bed – I do read before bed to wind down, but I have to choose things that aren’t too exciting…or …yes, my adrenaline gets going and I can’t sleep, or…I just can’t put the book down and I don’t sleep….:-)  So – I finished the whole book one night. 🙂  But was tired the next day…I love this book.

  7. Michele Womble June 9, 2016

    So – I am like Passepartout in that – I don’t change my watch – or clock on my phone.  I’ll be in the next country for weeks until I finally cave and change the time…I’ve been in America for half a year now, I think, and It was 5 months before I changed the time on my phone.  I don’t know what it is, exactly – sentimental?  It helps me feel connected with the place I left.  Then when I do change it I feel pain and a little bit like I’m betraying….who?  something.

    Of course, it isn’t convenient to have to do the time conversion in my head every time I look at my watch, and that’s why eventually I do change it (ok, ok, my husband changed it. :-0 He was tired of looking at my phone and not knowing what time it was, or waiting for me to convert the time).

    About Passepartout – He was reluctant at first, but he really EMBRACED the adventure (and the bet) and fairly early on, and I felt like he truly enjoyed himself…where Fogg – missed everything – I like Fogg, and I’m glad he got involved, etc. (but Passepartout is the one who really saved the girl by climbing onto the funeral pyre and pretending to be the dead spouse)  but it’s like even though he was able to stay steady throughout, he never really embraced the trip or even enjoyed it, it seemed, so I was kind of sad for him.

    I want to be like Passepartout, (not in the watch thing) in the way he really embraced the places he went explored them, enjoyed them – saw them.

    I want to embrace and enjoy where I am right now.

    Maybe keeping his watch on London time was his way of being able to keep a hand on London, tethered him, so to speak, and enabled him to let go and appreciate the journey in all the other ways that he did.

    Ridden an elephant – I liked it.

    yes to the unexpected travel complications.  Like being on an international flight and landing in a place that wasn’t on the flight’s itinerary to pick up more passengers (who were or were not scheduled?)  and being late and missing the next flight that WAS on the itinerary because of it….

  8. Kiera June 10, 2016

    I was a little behind because I didn’t get a chance to start this book until today…and then as Michele said, I read it all in one night. 🙂 I’d seen the movie before (the old 1956 version), so I remembered a few of the major plot points, but I also felt the tension of the story…will he make it? Passepartout means to go (passe) everywhere (partout) which he alludes to at the beginning in chapter 1, when he says he got the name going from one profession to another. I love the irony that although he thinks he wants to lead a tranquil life, his name is still Passepartout and he gets taken along on this crazy journey. I had to laugh at the railroad not actually being finished in India which I feel like could definitely happen at many points in the world. Anyways, super fun book and I am looking forward to discussing the end in a few days.

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