I listened to this book via the podcast Phoebe Reads a Mystery which is voiced by Phoebe Judge of the famed Criminal Podcast. She reads one to two chapters a day of a classic mystery (though I’m not sure if this most recent selection qualifies). This book follows a reluctant passenger aboard the Nautilus, a submarine which must have seemed truly fantastical the time of the book’s 1869 publication, and it’s secretive Captain Nemo.
French oceanographer Pierre Aronnax has, along with his faithful servant Conseil (pronounced con-SAY), have joined an expedition along with the US Nave to hunt down an elusive sea monster which has been harassing ships. When Aronnax, Conseil and gruff harpooner Ned Land are washed overboard during a confrontation with said monster, they find that it is in fact a giant submarine. Though Captain Nemo agrees to keep them on board, feed them well and even take them on amazing adventures he refuses to ever let them leave lest they tell of the existence of the Nautilus and all its secrets. Though Aronnax finds his time on the ship extremely fascinating and personally rewarding, he grows homesick and the restless Ned Land urges him to escape with him at the earliest possibility.
To the average contemporary reader, the sights in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea must have seemed unreal . I admit it does lose some of the awe and splendor when you can simply view these things from your living room via your streaming service of choice. But Aronnax’s wonder and excitement at seeing these things do keep the reader engaged even when they’ve seen it all before. Captain Nemo and his mysterious mission seem almost secondary to the sights and sounds of the world he inhabits. I highly recommend it on audiobook since it makes a nice soundtrack to house cleaning.