A story unknown to the masses, Eighty Days, in its entirety reads like a beloved classic. Taking place in 1890, two women on a mission against time, taking a trip around the world in 80 days or less. Breaking through gender barriers and serving as an encouragement to not only women, but all people.
Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland weren’t out to show that women could do what a man could do, they were just “modern girls,” doing their thing.
Bly coming from humble beginnings- her family life less than perfect, causing her to be the caretaker of her mother and even her siblings for a time. She did not finish school, but loved to write. Bly did not blink when she arrived in NY and had to force her way into the world of journalism. Like everything in her life, she saw it as a challenge that she would overcome. But her biggest desire, was her greatest challenge. Bly wanted to travel around the world in 80 days or less, just like the classic book by Jules Verne. She got her chance when working for “The World,” a daily newspaper in New York.
Elizabeth Bisland had a slightly different upbringing than that of Nellie Bly. A life that included society women and events. She preferred poetry to headlines and was considered the best looking woman in New York journalism. Bisland had never even considered a trip around the world, much less doing it alone and in under 80 days. However, when her editor, at Cosmopolitan, heard of Nellie Bly’s upcoming trip, he convinced Bisland to go on the trip as well.
The two ladies left in opposite directions. Bly to the east and Bisland to the west. Bets were placed, and newspaper sales soared as these two ladies did the unthinkable and traveled alone and against time.
Exploring many cultures along their way, meeting celebrities and a few undesirables, the ladies did in fact make it around the world. But I won’t spoil it for you and tell you who won or how fast she did it. You’ll just have to read for yourself.
The book at times reads as a novel, and at others a history book. A fascinating story about how far one will go for fame, a dream and maybe a little bit of fun. Meaty when it needs to be, and a bit time consuming if I’m honest, this book made me want to hop on a boat and travel somewhere new.
(Reading at the Garden of the Gods, in Colorado Springs)