Historical Fiction you should hear with several book covers featured with a bust wearing headphones.

Historical Fiction Audiobooks: August 2023

Travel back in time with these great historical fiction audiobooks.

The house is on fire / Rachel Beanland
A riveting reimagining of one of early America’s deadliest tragedies, the Richmond Theater Fire of 1811, told from the perspectives of four characters whose lives are irrevocably altered in the aftermath of the inferno. Beanland enlivens the smart and suspenseful narrative with fully developed protagonists that illuminate the community’s response to mass catastrophe.

Hour of the witch / Chris Bohjalian
Boston, 1662. Mary Deerfield is twenty-four years old. Her skin is porcelain, her eyes delft blue, and in England she might have had many suitors. But here in The New World, amid this community of saints, Mary is the second wife of Thomas Deerfield, a man as cruel as he is powerful. When Thomas, prone to drunken rage, drives a three-tined fork into the back of Mary’s hand, she resolves that she must divorce him to save her life. When tainted objects are discovered buried in Mary’s garden, when a boy she has treated with herbs and simples dies, and when their servant girl runs screaming in fright from her home, Mary must fight not only to escape her marriage, but also the gallows. 
Also available as an audiobook on Libby/OverDrive. 

A long way from home / Peter Carey
A novel set in 1954 Australia, reveals as much about the country / continent as it does about three audacious individuals who take part in the infamous 10,000-mile race, the Redex Trial. Irene Bobs loves fast driving. Her husband is the best car salesman in southeastern Australia. Together they enter the Redex Trial, a brutal race around the ancient continent, over roads no car will ever quite survive. With them is their lanky navigator, Willie Bachhuber, who calls the turns and creeks crossings on a map that will remove them, without warning, from the white Australia they all know so well. This is a thrilling high-speed story that starts in one way, and then takes you someplace else. It is often funny, more so as the world gets stranger, and always a page-turner even as you learn a history these characters never knew themselves. 
Also available as an audiobook on hoopla. 

The Water Dancer / Ta-Nehisi Coates
Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her, but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he’s ever known. So begins an unexpected journey that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia’s proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the Deep South to dangerously idealistic movements in the North. Even as he’s enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, Hiram’s resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures.
Also available as an audiobook on Libby/OverDrive.

All the Light We Cannot See / Anthony Doerr
Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six. Her father builds a perfect miniature of their Paris neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. But when the Nazis invade, father and daughter flee with a dangerous secret. Werner is a German orphan, destined to labor in the same mine that claimed his father’s life, until he discovers a knack for engineering. His talent wins him a place at a brutal military academy, but his way out of obscurity is built on suffering. At the same time, far away in a walled city by the sea, an old man discovers new worlds without ever setting foot outside his home. But all around him, impending danger closes in.
Also available as an audiobook on Libby/OverDrive.

The Pillars of the Earth / Ken Follett
This is the story of the lives entwined in the building of the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known — and a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother. Set in twelfth-century England, when empress Maud and Stephen are fighting for the crown of England after the death of Henry, this work of historical fiction chronicles the efforts to build a cathedral.
Also available as an audiobook on Libby/OverDrive.

Outlander/ Diana Gabaldon
In 1945, former combat nurse Claire Randall returns from World War II and joins her husband for a second honeymoon. Their blissful reunion is shattered when she touches a boulder in an ancient stone ruin and is instantly transported to 1743 Scotland, a place torn by war and raiding border clans. Will Claire find her way back to her own time, or is her destiny forever linked with Clan MacKenzie and the gallant James Fraser?
Also available as an audiobook on Libby/OverDrive and hoopla.

Homegoing / Yaa Gyasi
This is a historical novel that traces the descendants of two half-sisters Effia and Esi, born into different villages in Ghana. The sisters’ lives follow different paths: Effia marries a wealthy Englishman and lives in Cape Coast Castle, while Esi is captured during a raid and sold into slavery. Homegoing follows the parallel narrative lines of their descendants through eight generations, intimately portraying the African and African American experience in the aftermath of enslavement.
Also available as an audiobook on Libby/OverDrive.

Pompeii / Robert Harris
The novel blends together the history of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD with a fictional plot about an engineer sent from Rome to repair the city’s aqueducts. The young engineer — Marcus Attilius Primus — has just taken charge of the enormous aqueduct that brings fresh water to a quarter of a million people in nine towns around the Bay of Naples. Springs are falling for the first time in generations and now there is a crisis on the Augusta’s 60 mile main line — somewhere to the north of Pompeii, on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. Attilius’s plan is to go to Pompeii, with a team to fix the issue. But Pompeii is a corrupt and violent town, and Attilius soon learns that there are powerful forces at work (natural and man-made) threatening to destroy him.

The sea queen / Linnea Hartsuyker
An exhilarating saga, set in Viking-Age Scandinavia, filled with rich history, romantic adventure and political intrigue. Ragnvald is now king of Sogn, but fighting battles for King Harald keeps him away from home. His sister Svanhild has found freedom and adventure with an explorer, but she longs for a place to call home. A growing rebellion threatens everyone’s happiness, and Ragnvald must put a stop to it.
Also available as an audiobook on hoopla.

The woman with the blue star / Pam Jenoff
1942. Sadie Gault is 18 and living with her parents in the Kraków Ghetto during World War II. When the Nazis liquidate the ghetto, Sadie and her pregnant mother are forced to seek refuge in the perilous tunnels beneath the city. One day Sadie sees a girl about her own age buying flowers. Ella Stepanek is an affluent Polish girl living a life of ease with her stepmother, who has developed alliances with the occupying Germans. While on an errand, she catches a glimpse of something moving beneath a grate in the street. She realizes it’s a girl hiding. Ella begins to aid Sadie and the two become close, but as the dangers of the war worsen, their lives are set on a collision course that will test them in the face of overwhelming odds. Inspired by true stories, The Woman with the Blue Star is a testament to the power of friendship and the extraordinary strength of the human will to survive. 
Also available as an audiobook on Libby/OverDrive and hoopla. 

Wolf Hall / Hilary Mantel
In 1520s England, the Tudor Dynasty is threatening to unravel. King Henry VIII has yet to produce a male heir in his twenty-year marriage to his first wife. However, his pursuit to annul his marriage and court his wife’s lady-in-waiting, Anne Boleyn, threatens the stability of all of England and sets forth a chain of events that alters the course of history. 
Also available as an audiobook on Libby/OverDrive and hoopla. 

Moonrise over New Jessup / Jamila Minnicks
It’s 1957, and after leaving the only home she has ever known, Alice Young steps off the bus into the all-Black town of New Jessup, Alabama, where residents have largely rejected integration as the means for Black social advancement. She falls in love with Raymond Campbell, whose clandestine organizing activities challenge New Jessup’s status quo and could lead to the young couple’s expulsion-or worse-from the home they hold dear. But as Raymond continues to push alternatives for enhancing New Jessup’s political power, Alice must find a way to balance her undying support for his underground work with her desire to protect New Jessup from the rising pressure of upheavals both in and out of town. 
Also available as an audiobook on Libby/OverDrive. 

Cartier’s Hope / M. J. Rose
New York, 1910:  Vera Garland is a thirty-two year old journalist, fighting alongside hundreds of women for a place in society, only to meet hurdles around every turn. Most female journalists are delegated to the fashion and lifestyle pages but like her hero, Nellie Bly, Vera is a fighter. When news of the Hope Diamond, a jewel whose infamous legends and curses have captured the world’s attention, arrives in the city, Vera is fast on its trail. She’s certain the fabulous jewel will help jumpstart her career but she’s determined to seek revenge against her current employer, a magazine owner whose greed and blackmailing schemes led to the death of her beloved father. 
Also available as an audiobook on hoopla.

Snow flower and the secret fan / Lisa See
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, tells the story of a friendship between two girls as they grow into women in 19th century China, where girls have their feet bound as a mark of beauty and obedience, and women are meant to quietly endure their suffering. As the years pass, through famine and rebellion, they reflect upon their arranged marriages, loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their lifelong friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart. 
Also available as an audiobook on Libby/OverDrive. 

Once Upon a River / Diane Setterfield
On the evening of a winter solstice in the 19th century, a small girl is rescued from the River Thames; a river that winds through a village older than memory, a river that is central to the lives and imaginations of the people who live on its banks. Though initially thought dead, she miraculously begins to breathe again. What happened to her? Who is she? Everyone in this novel has a story, and the border between truth and fantasy, eternity and the now, is more porous than we would ever think and crossed as swiftly as the river itself.
Also available as an audiobook on Libby/OverDrive.