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Hear stories from the past in historical fiction audiobooks

By Kobo • May 19, 2023Recommended Reading

Hear the imagined voices of people from long ago.

When we read historical fiction we already know some of the story the characters are going to go through, but what draws us in is their voices and the fullness of their characterization, especially when we’re in the hands of a skilled writer. Here are a handful of historical novels set in different time periods and different parts of the world, some set amidst well-studied times and places, and others with characters whose lives take us to darker corners of the past.

Start listening to any of these audiobooks by subscribing to Kobo Plus Listen. Start your FREE 30-day trial.

Midnight Train to Prague by Carol Windley

A Hungarian couple divided by the outbreak of war in Europe is set to meet in Prague. Their reunion depends on eluding the occupying Nazi force—and finding a way to survive.

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The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr

Winner of the Giller Prize. This is the story of Baxter, a young Black man saving for dentistry school by working as a porter on trains travelling back and forth across Canada, and answering to the name “George,” which is what the white passengers call all of the porters. A breakdown on a particularly challenging trip forces Baxter to reckon with aspects of his identity that he’s tried to keep hidden, even from himself.

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The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

A magical realist novel that retells the story of the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata. Princess Panchaali supports her five husbands through their struggles to reclaim their birthright from their tyrannical father (the five husbands are in fact brothers), leading to a civil war. All the while the princess’ mother-in-law schemes just out of sight to gain the upper hand.

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The Keening by Anne Emery

It’s dead certain that the 16th-century prophetess Sorcha was murdered after a banquet at Maguire castle. But it’s unknown whether an archaeological dig in 2018, undertaken by a descendant of Sorcha’s dubiously convicted murderer, will be able to solve her murder with the evidence it uncovers.

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Today We Go Home by Kelli Estes

Another story running in timelines separated by centuries, this is the story of two women, both soldiers, whose paths run in parallel through the wars of their times. Larkin Bennett is a veteran of the war on terror in Afghanistan who happens upon the diary of Emily Wilson, a Union soldier who disguised herself to fight against the Confederacy in the Civil War. For both women, the enemy on the other side isn’t the only threat they’ll face.

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And Quiet Flows the Don by Mikhail Sholokhov

A masterpiece of Russian literature by a Nobel Prize winner about the lives of the Cossack people through an era of revolution, and through whose lands the river Don runs.

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Jude and Diana by Sharon Robart-Johnson

The murderers of Jude were put on trial in Nova Scotia and astonishingly acquitted. That’s about as much as the historical record provides about this woman who, along with her sister Diana, came to Nova Scotia from the US in bondage. After Jude’s murder, Diana carries on in a world that’s just beginning to consider an end to slavery, though it’s uncertain whether she’ll live to know any kind of freedom.

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Start listening to any of these audiobooks now by subscribing to Kobo Plus Listen. Start your FREE 30-day trial.

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