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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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Susan Gardner Bowers on 03-18-13
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+
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
By Diane on 03-24-13
Historical and interesting for sure!
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!
3 of 4 people found this review helpful