Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: eARC courtesy of Random House Publishing Group via Edelweiss – get your own copy from The Book Depository
Goodman has brought alive the 19th century world through his descriptions of how it would have looked like, how it would have smelt, and also the feelings our 2 heroines would have felt as seeing / smelling such sights. It is wonderful to have some perspectives as to what these 2 amazing women would have seen and lived through. I was most appreciative with the fact that due to the differences in background, Bly and Bisland had different views of the world and therefore, their own individual unique ways of approaching lives.
This book reads like a narrative switching between the 2 women and their respective travels interspersed with some interesting tidbits and historical insights to things and / or people these women seen and / or involved with. For example, the backgrounds of the paper and magazine which Bly and Bisland respectively worked for, descriptions of Bisland’s experience in Japan and Hong Kong and the comparative rickshaw and sedan rides, Bly’s adventurous into investigative journalism, and so on.
At the beginning, I loved Bly and her sense of adventure however at about midpoint of travel, some of the things revealed about her deflated my excitement about reading of her trip. Nevertheless, I still admired her for her accomplishment but I may not think her as a friend. That is, I don’t think the combination of our personalities will find us as close friends. Elizabeth Bisland, on the other hand, I found quite discouraging at the beginning of her travel. However, I found her to be someone closer to my own heart.
Non Fiction is not usually my cup of tea however I found this historical travelogue to be entertaining and I was, of course, cheering for Bly & Bisland to show the world what women can do should they put their minds and wills to it. A highly recommended read to all!
Thank you Ballantine Books and Edelweiss for the privilege to read & review galley