Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Day: Cool New Audiobooks for a Weekend Road Trip

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It was only recently that I discovered the joy to be found in an audiobook-fueled road trip. For the longest time, books seemed too evocative for car rides, too absorbing to serve as mere accompaniment to a scenic journey.

Trusting an algorithm to find something to keep me awake, I downloaded “The Lost City of Z,” David Grann’s gripping tale of the obsessive, swashbuckling Victorian explorer Percy Fawcett.

But then, around two years ago, I found myself in Chile, exhausted by a string of flight delays and facing a long drive through the night.

“Night Music”

Isabel Delancey, a recently widowed mother of two, is shocked to discover that she is close to bankruptcy. A talented classical violinist who had given up her career, Isabel must sell her family’s upscale London house, dismiss the nanny and figure out how and where to live.

Now available in a new recording, Jojo Moyes’s 2009 novel may terrify listeners who are renovating their houses, but everyone else should enjoy it immensely.

Then news comes that a distant relative has died and left her his decrepit country mansion. Isabel sees an opportunity, but there’s a hitch: the local builder helping her with a massive renovation considers the house his.

As walls come down, Isabel’s savings begin to vanish in a cloud of plaster dust.

The novel, narrated beautifully by actor and singer Elizabeth Knowelden, is a potent concoction of treachery and obsession; village life and romance; dry rot and load-bearing walls. (Penguin, Unabridged, 13¼ hours) “Embassy Wife”

Katie Crouch’s nimbly plotted novel shows us the thankless lot of “trailers,” the spouses of overseas diplomats. Amanda Evans has given up the job she loved in California so that her husband, Mark, a second-rate academic, can pursue a Fulbright-funded study overseen by the U.S. Embassy in Namibia.

It turns out that Mark had secretly angled for this project in the hope of discovering the fate of a woman he had loved but abandoned when he was in the Peace Corps 20 years ago. Is she dead? Or vanished? Or did she take on a whole new identity? We begin to suspect the last and also who exactly she is now. The situation gets sticky. The novel is part satire of gossip-poisoned, exploitative embassy communities, part comedy of manners and part drama.

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