Living in NYC, in the pandemic’s epicenter, under a stay-at-home mandate, I find myself thinking about the things I am missing most: Once I get past hugging and playing with my grandchildren, my mind goes to traveling. Getting on airplanes was a regular part of my pre-Covid work life. The last flight I took was back from Atlanta on the 6th of March. Then everything shut down. Unlike many folks who find travel a nuisance, I have always loved the entire experience, from the flight itself to being in a place with new sites, sounds, foods, and people.
Now, like everyone else, my wings have been clipped, and I am relying on audiobooks to transport me to new places. Below is a selection of audiobooks that take us to intriguing locations around the world. These listens engage us in mysterious doings and reveal the real people and customs that are less visible to tourists. And one of the keys to doing so is the power of the narrator to perform different accents, making the experience feel more genuine.
In DEATH IN AVIGNON by Serena Kent, narrator Antonia Beamish masterfully performs the British and French accents that invite the listener to follow amateur sleuth Penelope Kite on her adventures through Provence. Who wouldn’t want to take a flight of fancy to Southern France and munch croissants while solving a murder?
For those who want to continue exploring in Europe, let’s go to Italy, which has so suffered over the last months. Listeners can truly enjoy a walk through the maze of streets and over the bridges of Venice with Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti. Book 28 in the series, UNTO US A SON IS GIVEN, is narrated by David Colacci, whose Italian accent for the philosophical Brunetti seems right in step with this series, which projects such an appreciation for all things Venetian. David Colacci returns to narrate Book 29 in the series, TRACE ELEMENTS, just out and soon to be reviewed.
More adventurous listeners might enjoy a trip to Africa, with Kwei Quartey’s THE MISSING AMERICAN, read by Golden Voice Robin Miles. You can get to know Robin better in her interview with Jo Reed on AudioFile’s podcast. The audiobook takes the listener into the underworld of Accra, the capital of Ghana, a location that most listeners would likely not have the opportunity to visit in person. And if you enjoy the audiobook, you can binge on several others written by Quartey.
And let’s adventure even further, all the way to Sydney, Australia, with Julian Leatherdale’s DEATH IN THE LADIES’ GODDESS CLUB, narrated by Ceceila Ramsdale. In this case we are not only taking a trip around the world, we are also going back in time to the early 1930s. As a huge fan of the Australian television series “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries,” which takes place in post-WWI Melbourne, I am intrigued by the historical details that create the setting for this audiobook. The listener’s immersion into the world of the lead characters Joan Linderman and her friend Bernice Becker is greatly aided by Ramsdale’s narration. She successfully differentiates the many characters with varying accents from different classes and backgrounds. A really engaging getaway—something we can all use.
So please take off and go far away in your imagination while you continue to stay safe and stay home.