This month’s selections of audiobooks include a British drama that tackles a political scandal in the age of #MeToo, Stephen King’s self-described “scariest book,” and a gripping memoir that travels from a survivalist outpost in Idaho to Cambridge University.
By David Adams
ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL by Sarah Vaughan, narrated by Julie Teal, Luke Thomspon, Esther Wane, and Sarah Feathers
A charismatic politician stands accused of a shocking crime. His devoted wife believes in his innocence; the veteran sex crimes prosecutor assigned to the case is equally convinced of his guilt. To make matters more complicated, the two women were friends in college—a time whose long-buried secrets might just hold the key to the truth. Vaughan, a former journalist, portrays the corrosive effects of power and privilege with compassion and keen intelligence. Perfectly attuned to the shifting dynamics of the #MeToo era and masterfully narrated by a cast of veteran voiceover actors, Anatomy of a Scandal is the rare work of commercial fiction that delivers juicy drama without sacrificing depth and nuance.
This #1 New York Times bestseller is the true story of the author’s incredible journey from homeschooled survivalist to Cambridge University PhD. Raised on the side of a mountain in southeastern Idaho, Westover was the youngest of seven children born to Mormon fundamentalist parents. Her father distrusted the US government, modern medicine, and any book that wasn’t written by Joseph Smith. When Westover came down with tonsillitis, he told her to stand outside with her mouth open and let the sun heal her throat. Inspired by an older brother who studied in secret and desperate to escape another brother who beat her, Westover procured an ACT study guide and did well enough on the test to get into Brigham Young University—where she nonchalantly asked a professor what the Holocaust was. Audie Award-winner Julia Whelan does an incredible job bringing Westover’s parents and siblings to life, and captures the pain and determination of a daughter whose only way forward is to turn her back on her family.
Horror master Stephen King, who based this grisly story of death and resurrection on the demise of his daughter’s cat, considers Pet Sematary to be his most frightening book. The 1989 film version met with mixed reviews, but there’s never been an unabridged audio edition—until now. Golden Globe-winner Michael C. Hall—who learned a thing or two about dead bodies from his roles in Dexter and Six Feet Under—dials up the creepiness to 11 as he embodies every character, living and dead. Check out the audiobook now in preparation for next year’s movie remake starring Jon Lithgow and Jason Clarke, but be warned: This is one audiobook you won’t want to listen to alone—or with your pets.
Sedaris’s voice, unlike his writing, doesn’t come across as smooth or effortless: It’s high-pitched and nasal, threatening in moments to drift beyond the range of human hearing. But like his perfectly polished prose, his voiceover narration is the ideal cover for his barbed wit—you never see the poison-tipped arrow until it hits its mark. In Calypso, Sedaris places the bullseye squarely on his middle-aged back—and bowels and stomach. The horrors of aging provide a wealth of hilarious material, including an unforgettable escapade involving a benign tumor and a snapping turtle. But it’s his youngest sister’s suicide a few weeks shy of her 50th birthday that gives Sedaris’s reckoning with mortality its sharpest focus and makes Calypso his most deeply personal and affecting book.