April 15, 2017 Booklist 63 www.booklistonline.com
the book’s wit and humor, she creates clear
and distinctive voices with various inflections
and accents for characters
old and young, male and
female. Listeners will also
appreciate her sharply
articulated dialogue and
her comic readings of the
e-mails and letters from
parents begging Kate for
their children’s admission.
Although the plot is a bit predictable (Kate
finds love, success, and happiness, and the
friends overcome conflicts and remain tight),
listeners will find the journey well worth the
fun ride. —Cheryl Ward
The Whole Town’s Talking.
By Fannie Flagg. Read by Kimberly Farr.
2016. 12hr. Books on Tape, CD, $40 (9780735209770).
Swedish immigrant Lordor Nordstrom imports a bride from Chicago and grows a small
town around his dairy farm in this charming
story spanning from the late 1800s to the
present. Flagg populates her novel with her
trademark quirky characters (some appearing
in previous novels) and small-town doings.
The twist here is that residents stick around
in the Still Meadows cemetery after death, so
tearful good-byes are balanced by happy reunions, and everyone can chime in on world
events. As she moves through the eras, Flagg
highlights each decade’s flavor (rock ’n’ roll
in the ’50s; lava lamps in the ’70s). Reader
Farr juggles accents deftly, switching from the
thick Swedish of the founding settlers to the
modern cadence of their children and grandchildren. Each character is distinct, from the
soft-spoken spinster schoolteacher who greets
newcomers at the cemetery to the crotchety
town grouch. Flagg’s many fans will enjoy this
sweet, nostalgic look at small-town life and
America’s past. —Candace Smith
By Jan Moran. Read by Erin Bennett.
2016. 13hr. Dreamscape, CD, $49.99 (9781520060903).
Moran’s domestic drama focuses on mothers,
daughters, secrets, and wine. Set in 1956, with
flashbacks to 1929, the story also highlights
changes in women’s lives. The strong-willed
women of the Rosetta family have defied
prejudice against American wine to bring international recognition to the Mille Étolies
winery of Napa. As the action spans continents,
Bennett deftly handles a variety of languages
and accents, including French, Italian, and
Spanish. She gives each character a distinct
personality, skillfully dropping her rich voice
to create resonant male characters. Bennett
maintains interest during detailed winemaking
descriptions that convey the theme that terroir,
the natural environment in which a wine is
produced, shapes both wine and individuals.
As each generation’s secrets are dramatically
revealed, with additional suspense provided
by dangers from earthquakes to madmen, Bennett’s even cadence creates intensity through
pitch and tone. Though the writing at times is
These novels, reviewed between April 2015 and April 2017, span the genre’s range and include family sagas, social histories, and biographical historical fiction.
Andersonville. By MacKinlay Kantor. Read by
Grover Gardner. 2015. 37hr. Brilliance, CD, $14.99
Gardner masterfully re-creates the voices and stories
of the characters in this haunting novel, which
takes listeners inside Andersonville, the notorious Southern prison camp.
At the Edge of the Orchard. By Tracy Chevalier. Read by Mark Bramhall and others. 2016.
9hr. Books on Tape, CD, $40 (9781101924983).
Chevalier’s novel, compellingly read by a
quartet of skilled narrators, follows a struggling
American family through the nineteenth century in this family drama.
Belgravia. By Julian Fellowes. Read by Juliet Stevenson. 2016. 16hr. Hachette, CD, $35
Stevenson’s stellar narration transforms this richly detailed novel of 1840s London society from posh soap opera into enthralling audio theater.
A Hero of France. By Alan Furst. Read by Daniel Gerroll. 2016. 8hr. Simon & Schuster
Audio, CD, $29.99 (9781442399006).
In this dark novel of the Nazi occupation in France, Gerroll’s mesmerizing narration
matches Furst’s skillful plotting and places listeners in the midst of the danger.
Katherine of Aragon, the True Queen. By Alison Weir. Read by Rosalyn Landor. 2016.
22.5hr. Recorded Books, CD, $123.75 (9781501905629).
Landor’s intense, emotional storytelling elegantly frames the life of an extraordinary woman in a portrayal that imbues Henry VIII’s first queen with emotional depth and warmth.
Last Bus to Wisdom. By Ivan Doig. Read by David Aaron Baker. 2015. 16hr. Recorded
Books, CD, $102.75 (9781470372071).
Eleven-year-old Donal journeys from Montana to Wisconsin in 1951 in this coming-of-age novel. Baker’s narration reflects the heartwarming tone and the rich variety of
Lincoln in the Bardo. By George Saunders. Read by Nick Offerman and others. 2017.
7.5hr. Books on Tape, CD, $35 (9780553397598).
A cast of 166 voices portrays characters living and dead in Oak Hill Cemetery in 1862 as
President Lincoln grieves for his son, Willie.
The Relic Master. By Christopher Buckley. Read by James Langton. 2015. 11hr. Simon &
Schuster Audio, DD, $23.99 (9781442394476).
Authentic historical details and personages fill this comic romp, which follows a trader
of religious relics in 1517 Europe. Langton manages the diverse voices and the elaborate
caper plot with spot-on accents and excellent comic timing.
The Summer before the War. By Helen Simonson. Read by Fiona Hardingham. 2016.
16hr. Books on Tape, CD, $45 (9781101888599).
In the summer of 1914, the sleepy village of Rye stands as a microcosm for British
society. Hardingham’s lively British accent and silky cadence reflect the changes in life
there, as rumors of war become tragedies that affect the citizens.
The Underground Railroad. By Colson Whitehead. Read by Bahni Turpin.2016. 11hr.
Books on Tape, CD, $40 (9781524736279).
Whitehead’s unsettling exploration of slavery in the antebellum South evokes the harsh
realities of a slave’s life. Turpin’s haunting narration makes this intense, imaginative, and
grim odyssey feel disturbingly real.
TOP 10 HISTORICAL FICTION ON AUDIO