Book World: 3 great new audiobooks for your weekend road trip - and beyond

Katherine A. Powers
Special to the Washington Post

 'Night Music'

Now available in a new recording, Jojo Moyes's2009 novel may terrify listeners who are renovating their houses - but everyone else should enjoy it immensely. Isabel Delancey, a recently widowed mother of two, is shocked to discover that she is close to bankruptcy. A talented classical violinist who had given up her career, Isabel must sell her family's upscale London house, dismiss the nanny and figure out how and where to live. Then news comes that a distant relative has died and left her his decrepit country mansion. Isabel sees an opportunity, but there's a hitch: the local builder helping her with a massive renovation considers the house his. As walls come down, Isabel's savings begin to vanish in a cloud of plaster dust. The novel,narrated beautifully by actor and singer Elizabeth Knowelden, is a potent concoction of treachery and obsession; village life and romance; dry rot and load-bearing walls. (Penguin, Unabridged, 13¼ hours)

Night Music; Embassy Wife; China room

 'Embassy Wife'

Katie Crouch's nimbly plotted novel shows us the thankless lot of "trailers," the spouses of overseas diplomats. Amanda Evans has given up the job she loved in California so that her husband, Mark, a second-rate academic, can pursue a Fulbright-funded study overseen by the U.S. Embassy in Namibia. It turns out that Mark had secretly angled for this project in the hope of discovering the fate of a woman he had loved but abandoned when he was in the Peace Corps 20 years ago. Is she dead? Or vanished? Or did shetake on a whole new identity? We begin to suspect the last - and also who exactly she is now. The situation gets sticky. The novel is part satire of gossip-poisoned, exploitative embassy communities, part comedy of manners and part drama. Marni Penning narrates the book in a clear, straightforward manner, distinguishing between speakers with a medley of voices and accents, some of them seemingly of her own devising. (Dreamscape. Unabridged, 14 hours)

 'China Room'

Sunjeev Sahota's intense, heart-rending novel - longlisted for the Booker Prize - is based on a tale passed down in the author's family. At its center is the "china room," an outbuilding on a farm in rural Punjab where, in 1929, the three wives of three brothers sleep and cook for their husbands and dictatorial mother-in-law, Mai. Having arranged the marriages, Mai chooses which wife will spend the night in a completely dark "windowless chamber" with her respective husband. "Dutiful, veiled and silent," the wives are kept from knowing which brother is whose husband, an ignorance that leads to the terrible blunder that upends the life of the youngest wife, 15-year-old Mehar. Her story alternates with that of Mehar's great-grandson, an 18-year-old with a heroin addiction. To kick his habit, he retreats to the derelict farm in India - where, ominously, one of the outbuildings is equipped with bars. We eventually discover their purpose after a painfully suspenseful few hours. Antonio Aakeel takes on Mehar's struggling great-grandson's first-person narration while Indira Varma delivers Mehar's story in a low, melodic voice. (Penguin Audio, Unabridged, 6 hours)