Listen to women take on the world in September’s best audiobooks

From a spooky thriller to a collection of experiences of displacement, women lead the stories featured in this month’s roundup of top audiobooks.

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster
“The Island of Sea Women” by Lisa See; read by Jennifer Lim; Simon & Schuster Audio; 13 hours and 30 minutes.

This month, check out a modern, gothic thriller; mini-biographies from displaced young people; a poignant, multigenerational tale of female Korean divers; and a fact-based novel detailing the making of “The Wizard of Oz.”

“The Island of Sea Women” by Lisa See

Read by Jennifer Lim; Simon & Schuster Audio; 13 hours and 30 minutes

This multigenerational tale of women living on an island off the coast of Korea details a world in which women have power and authority and work hard as deep-sea divers. Two women and their friendship are at the heart of a tale in which war and disruption, including American occupation, destroy some lives and alter others. Jennifer Lim sounds a bit perfunctory at times, but for the most part is an appropriate narrator who understands the correct pronunciation of local names and locales. The novel is a beautifully written, sublime piece of fiction; the narration is a near miss. Grade: A-

“We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World” by Malala Yousafzai

Read by Neela Vaswani, Deepti Gupta, and Malala Yousafzai; Hachette Audio; four hours

Courtesy of Hachette Book Group
“We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World” by Malala Yousafzai; read by Neela Vaswani, Deepti Gupta, and Malala Yousafzai; Hachette Audio; four hours.

Narration is a problem for this otherwise excellent young adult collection of mini-biographies introduced by and featuring Malala Yousafzai. She details her own harrowing account before handing the reins over to nine other displaced people – mostly girls and women – whose lives were disrupted by war and terrorism. The stories are compelling and Malala is an excellent narrator – her diction is clear, her voice almost lyrical, and her pacing and polish belie her age. However, many of the stories are read by Deepti Gupta, who does not have a pleasing voice and whose various accents are a distraction. Otherwise this is powerful and poignant. Grade: B+

“The Turn of the Key” by Ruth Ware

Read by Imogen Church; Simon & Schuster Audio; 12 hours

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster
“The Turn of the Key” by Ruth Ware; read by Imogen Church; Simon & Schuster Audio; 12 hours.

Ruth Ware is good at writing creepy tales and this novel about a nanny moving into an apparently haunted smart house takes a gothic trope and modernizes it. Even better is an ending that you won’t see coming and that reframes everything you’ve just heard. Narrator Imogen Church underscores the story’s eeriness, as she sounds appropriately young and energetic, easily conveying fright and desperation. This isn’t Ware’s best as it plods along in spots, but is still a lot of fun on a crisp autumn evening. Grade: B

“Finding Dorothy” by Elizabeth Letts

Read by Ann Marie Lee and Elizabeth Letts; Random House Audio; 14 hours

Courtesy of Penguin Random House
“Finding Dorothy” by Elizabeth Letts; read by Ann Marie Lee and Elizabeth Letts; Random House Audio; 14 hours.

This historical fiction explores the factual backdrop for the world created by L. Frank Baum, as told through the eyes of his wife, the forward-thinking suffragette Maud Gage Baum. At times the writing is a bit simplistic and overwrought, but for the most part this is an intriguing and entertaining diversion. Narrator Ann Marie Lee could have been reined in a bit, as she does the story no favors by emoting. She should have let the story speak for itself. Grade: B

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