13 Audiobooks for People Who Like A Period Drama
I have a confession to make: I am a period drama addict.
Watching a great period drama is one of my favourite ways to unwind. I’ve seen almost all of them – from Shakespearean drama to Life on Mars. Whether it’s pure fiction or based on real historical events, I love escaping into another time period for a bit.
The only downside is the inevitable period drama hangover: that horrible time after its finished when all I want to do is jump back into that world again. Thankfully, that’s where books come in!
So whether you’ve also seen every Jane Eyre adaptation out there, or you’re just a casual viewer, here are some audiobook recommendations to suit you:
For Fans of The Crown
I binge-watched Netflix’s blockbuster addition to the period drama genre in about three days. I simply couldn’t stop! Not only is it great drama, it also made me realise that I actually knew very little about the royal family. If you’ve been inspired to find out a bit more about the Windsors too, then these audiobooks are the perfect solution:
Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith
The great thing about this biography is finding out about the history that The Crown only hints at. Smith writes about the Queen’s love for Prince Philip from the age of thirteen, and how she repaired army trucks as a teenager during World War II. But there’s also plenty of interesting information about her daily routine and lots of intriguing details about her personality.
Princes at War by Deborah Cadbury
If you’re interested in the fallout between Edward VIII and George VI after Edward’s abdication, this is the audiobook for you. It’s all about the relationship between the two brothers, and how strained it became during and after the abdication crisis. Cadbury also includes information about the two other brothers in that royal family – the Dukes of Gloucester and Kent, who aren’t as well known. This is a great account that goes into a lot more detail about these fraught family ties.
Available for Listening Books members on MP3 CD, book number 13121.
For Fans of Witness for the Prosecution
The BBC’s adaptation of this darker Agatha Christie drama had 5 million of us glued to our seats between Christmas and New Year. If you liked its eerie tone, you’ll love these creepy murder mysteries:
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Probably one of Christie’s best and most famous mysteries, this full-cast dramatisation sees Poirot investigating as a wealthy American is found stabbed to death in his cabin on the Orient Express train. While there is no shortage of clues for Poirot to investigate, they all seem to point towards a very strange conclusion. This is another one of Christie’s darker stories that has a great premise, and mulls over whether justice is ever really done.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
This book features another dysfunctional husband and wife, with lots of twists and turns. Amy Dunne suddenly goes missing, and her husband Nick must ask himself whether he actually knows anything about her at all, since she seems to have a lot of secrets. However, the truth about this dark mystery turns out to be far stranger and will give you chills!
Available for Listening Books members on MP3 CD, book number 12567.
For Fans of Downton Abbey
It might have been finished for over a year now (sob), but there was a lot to love about this period drama: the tensions between upstairs and downstairs, the plotting, and the terrible choices! If you’re missing it, try one of these audiobooks:
Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks
P.G. Wodehouse’s famous characters – Bertie Wooster and his ‘gentlemen’s personal gentlemen’ Jeeves – get a great new outing in this audiobook. This time their roles are reversed, as Jeeves is the one who is seen in the drawing room of Sir Henry Hackwood, while Bertie finds himself downstairs serving him, and isn’t all that pleased about the situation since he has never so much as made a cup of tea. The upstairs-downstairs dynamic is out in full force in this fun audiobook!
Available for Listening Books members on MP3 CD, book number 11931
The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy
Saga is the right word for this; Galsworthy’s epic story chronicles the Forsyte family from the height of power and wealth, through their decline and the feud that ultimately splits them up between 1886 and 1920. Featuring plenty of domestic dramas, affairs, divorce and monetary problems to fill several seasons of Downton Abbey plots, this full cast drama shows the troubles of a family trying to adapt to a new century, often very poorly.
For Fans of Stranger Things
Watching this series is almost like watching all the most famous films of the 1980s all at once, from horror, to science fiction, to ‘Stand By Me’. Here are some great audiobooks to listen to next while you wait for the next season:
The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
A group of boys attempt to rescue their friend Pipkin after he goes missing while trick-or-treating on Halloween. Featuring a mysterious spirit called Moundshroud, a whirlwind ride through time and space to places like Ancient Egypt, Medieval Paris and the Day of the Dead in Mexico, and some spine-chilling terror, this book is perfect to while away the time before Stranger Things returns.
Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley
One of Edward’s favourite things to do is to listen to his peculiar Uncle Montague’s frightening stories of the artefacts in his sitting room. However, the more stories his Uncle tells, the more Edward starts to realise there is something even more terrifying that links all of the stories. This collection of eerie, gothic tales will haunt you long after you’ve finished listening.
Available for Listening Books members on MP3 CD, book number 00728.
For Fans of Pride and Prejudice
Whether you’re a fan of the 2005 film version, or a devotee of the 1995 BBC miniseries this is one of the most famous period dramas out there. If you’re looking for some books set in the Regency to tide you over until they make another version (can there ever be too many?), give one of these audiobooks a go:
Longbourn by Jo Baker
If you’ve ever wondered what the world would be like being a servant in an Austen novel, then this is your answer. It looks at the life of those who served the upper classes in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars. There’s just as much romance, heartbreak and intrigue in this audiobook about Sarah, the housemaid for the Bennet household, as in the original tale featuring the Bennets, especially when a mysterious new footman arrives.
Available for Listening Books members on MP3 CD, book number 11936.
Sylvester by Georgette Heyer
This Regency romance written by the queen of the genre will fill any Pride and Prejudice shaped hole in your life. Sylvester, Duke of Salford, overflowing with rank and wealth, finds Phoebe Marlow dull when he first meets her, and for her part she finds him insufferably arrogant. When a series of circumstances leaves them stranded together in a lonely country inn, however, they are both forced to reassess their opinions. Plus, it’s narrated by Richard Armitage. What could be better?
For Fans of Game of Thrones
Okay, so this one isn’t exactly a period drama. After all, the genre doesn’t often include terrifying zombies and giant dragons. However, despite being set in a fantasy land, George R. R. Martin has said he found a lot of inspiration in British history – specifically the Wars of the Roses. So, if you like Game of Thrones, you’ll probably also like this historical fiction set around the same time:
Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory
After the Wars of the Roses ended, the monarchy was no less tempestuous. Philippa Gregory’s latest novel takes the three powerful women surrounding King Henry VIII as its subject and looks at how they moved from rivals to allies to rivals again as Queens of England, Scotland and France. As full of bloodthirsty manoeuvring and marriage scheming as you could want.
Available for Listening Books members on MP3 CD, book number 13519.
The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen
This audiobook is the answer to the question: what would have happened if Anne Boleyn had given King Henry VIII the son he always wanted? Featuring court intrigue, treachery and passion set in Tudor England, this is the story of Henry IX, anxious to prove himself, and a romantic obsession that could destroy the Tudor family altogether. With everything that makes Game of Thrones: secrets, spying and suddenly changing alliances, and a question over who will ultimately take the throne, this is perfect to while away the time before the next series!
For Fans of Call the Midwife
This stalwart favourite returns to our screens next month, and we’re really excited. To get yourself in the mood to watch it, why not listen to the memoir that inspired the series?
Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth
Jennifer Worth’s vivid descriptions of the difficulty of working as a midwife in the London Docklands in the 1950s is mitigated by the often hilarious and poignant examples of kindness she comes across. A great companion to the television series – and story in it’s own right.
Available for Listening Books members on MP3 CD, book number 00637.
I hope I’ve inspired you to try some of these great period books! What’s your favourite period drama?
This post was written by Abigail Jaggers