As a woman who has done a lot of solo traveling I have always admired Nellie Bly as a pioneer of female world travel. Ever since I first did a book report about her in the third grade I have been interested in her, and I was eager to read this book about her race around the world, especially when I realized the book was also about Elizabeth Bisland, the woman who set off around the world in the opposite direction, hoping to beat Bly's time. I had heard of Bisland before in one of the other books I've read about Nelly Bly, but the most I ever heard about her was that she also went around the world and she lost to Bly by several days. This book follows both women on their journey and I was thrilled to learn more about Elizabeth Bisland and the problems she faced on her journey.
Anyone who has ever done any traveling will appreciate the journeys of Bly and Bisland, and sympathize with them as they fight their way from Brindisi to Ceylon, Ceylon to Brindisi, and across the Atlantic. I was struck by how harrowing international travel was before airplanes, and how brave and tough anyone must have been to take it on. Even moving at a leisurely pace must have been a million times harder than I could ever imagine. The fact that Bly only had a small bag with her makes me want to name her the patron saint of backpackers!
In addition to the travels of the two women the author also gives us interesting information on steam ships and the people who ran them, Chinese immigrants, how the nation adopted time zones and much more. This was amazing book and one that I had trouble putting down until it was done!