Last month I kayaked within sight of Mount Katahdin. I also drove a mile into Canada, for which I needed a passport, which implies foreign travel. However, I took my most far-flung journeys this summer by audiobook. Herewith, six new favorites, so that in these last few weeks of the season, you, too, can travel far without actually packing a bag.
First off, Diana Marcum’s memoir, THE TENTH ISLAND, spirited me away from foggy Maine to the Azores archipelago, where Portuguese is spoken, the sun shines, and bulls run in the streets. Rebecca Mozo’s narration adds extra color to this entertaining story of starting over in someplace wonderful. I’m ready to buy a ticket.
Speaking of wonderful, Peter Mayle, who years ago engendered my passion for all things southern French in A YEAR IN PROVENCE, wrote an entrancing, posthumously published memoir, MY TWENTY-FIVE YEARS IN PROVENCE, which came out this summer. It’s read by the golden voiced John Lee, who also won an Earphones Award for Mayle’s PROVENCE A-Z, a tour of everything gastronomic and cultural about his favorite land. I listened to prepare for a trip next year, but I would have loved it no matter what. C’est delicieux.
As is A TASTE FOR VENGEANCE, the latest Martin Walker mystery about Bruno, Chief of Police in the French Dordogne. Yes, he solves genuinely interesting crimes, but what I love most about this series are the food, wine, and scenery, beautifully rendered by narrator Robert Ian MacKenzie. All those vineyards and medieval villages. All that paté.
I moved from paté to prosciutto toscano in the new WOMEN IN SUNLIGHT, a novel by Frances Mayes, who induced my permanent Italy-hunger in her famed memoir UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN. Three women eschew retirement in North Carolina to rent a Tuscan villa. Kimberly Farr’s reading is buonissimo — and I’ve already picked out my room in that villa. I also recommend Mayes’s memoir, A YEAR IN THE WORLD, about her adventures around the Mediterranean. An Earphones Award performance by Cassandra Campbell, plus lots of mouth-watering descriptions of meals. I warn you about listening on an empty stomach.
Thankfully, Commissario Brunetti and the other denizens of Donna Leons’s evocative Venetian detective series also eat a lot. Along with captivating descriptions of Venice’s arching bridges and labyrinthian footpaths, Leon details every delicious meal in her newest mystery, THE TEMPTATION OF FORGIVENESS, read by David Colacci. The mystery is good, too. Until I manage to return to Venice, Leon’s books are my ticket.
And finally, a cruise, because, well, I’ve never been on one. In Kate Christensen’s new novel, THE LAST CRUISE, read by Rob Shapiro, things go very wrong on a vintage 1950s ocean liner. But that meant that I could have my watery experience and live to enjoy it, for this terrifying, humorous, descriptive novel offered a thoroughly gratifying high-seas adventure.