Book World: 3 new audiobooks, including ‘The East Indian’, that whisk you away to other times and places


‘The Lost Wife,’ by Susanna Moore

“The Lost Wife” by Susanna Moore. MUST CREDIT: Random House Audio

Set before and during the Civil War, Susanna Moore’s seventh novel concerns itself with a far less celebrated conflict: the United States’ war against Native Americans in the Great Plains. The story revolves around Sarah Brown, who escapes a violent husband, makes the wretched journey from Rhode Island to the Minnesota Territory to join a childhood friend – who, alas, has died. Sarah, a practical woman, finds a husband in a doctor; the couple have two children and move further west. Around them, the Dakota Sioux have been cruelly cheated by government agents, and by 1862, they are starving and desperate. Led by Little Crow, they rise up, killing hundreds of settlers and taking hostages, among them Sarah and her children who become incorporated into tribal life. But federal retaliation is ruthless, with hundreds slaughtered and hundreds captured and condemned to hang (though, Lincoln commuted the sentences of all but 38). Sophie Amoss narrates this heartbreaking tale in a compassionate, sometimes heated voice, conveying both the immense injustices dealt to the Dakota and Sarah’s strength of mind and resourcefulness. (Random House Audio, Unabridged, 5 1/4 hours)

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‘Wanderlust: An Eccentric Explorer, an Epic Journey, a Lost Age,’ by Reid Mitenbuler

“Wanderlust: An Eccentric Explorer, an Epic Journey, a Lost Age,” by Reid Mitenbuler. MUST CREDIT: HarperAudio

Writing with panache and insight, Reid Mitenbuler serves up the many-faceted life of Peter Freuchen (1886-1957), Danish Arctic explorer, trading-post operator, writer, journalist, lecturer, actor, environmentalist, supporter of the Danish Resistance and winner of the immensely popular quiz show “the $64,000 Question.” (This last made him a celebrity where his death-defying feats and creative accomplishments had not.) Beginning in 1906, he spent almost 20 years living among the Inuit in Thule, Greenland. He married a Native woman and took part in several grueling arctic expeditions, one of which cost him a foot and part of a leg, frozen when he was trapped beneath packed snow. The book has found the ideal narrator in Peter Noble, who has a fine storytelling voice and conveys the drama of events in a measured fashion, without theatricality. It’s a fine achievement given the larger-than-life details – one or two of which strike the listener as being embellished by Freuchen’s penchant for a good yarn. (HarperAudio, Unabridged, 19 1/4 hours)

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‘The East Indian,’ by Brinda Charry

“The East Indian,” by Brinda Charry. MUST CREDIT: Simon & Schuster Audio

Brinda Charry’s novel begins in her native India and draws on her study of English Renaissance literature, specifically Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” It’s an unlikely pairing that never quite works – but what does, and does so splendidly, is her fictional recreation of the predicament of Tony from India’s Coromandel Coast. He travels to England as a young servant to a master who dies; he is soon snatched from a London street and transported to the English colony of Jamestown in 1635. There he is indentured to a series of masters, all demanding, one brutal. Tony, the first East Indian to arrive in America, falls between racial categories which are hardening into social identities. Lonely and often despised, Tony perseveres with a plan to practice medicine. His adventures illuminate the precarious circumstances, superstitions and outlook of this ill-favored, tobacco-producing colony. Vikas Adam narrates the book in a clear, gentle voice. His delivery is a real pleasure, despite his repeated mispronunciation of “victuals.” (Simon & Schuster Audio, Unabridged, 10 3/4 hours)

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Katherine A. Powers reviews audiobooks every month for The Washington Post.



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