Audiobooks and International Women’s Day
By Cameron Phillips, Nuria Berbel Torres and Sarunicka Satkuruparan
In this issue we are celebrating International Women’s Day by spotlighting our favourite audiobooks by female authors. The power of female voices has been constantly undermined and underutilised, but there is no question that women’s voices, stories and perspectives hold the ability to transform how we view the world and the experiences we have in it.
Nuria’s Pick: The Wolf Den, Narrated by Antonia Beamish
Set in Pompeii a couple of years before the Mt. Vesuvius eruption, it reimagines the lives of women who have long been lost to history, their lives so full of misery and abuse but also resilience and sisterhood. There’s heartache, vulgarity and romance in a nonconventional way. The novel follows Amara, once a dutiful and loved daughter, who was sold as a slave when her father’s death plunged her family into poverty. She finds herself working in Pompeii’s infamous brothel, slave to a despicable man, yet her spirit has not faltered; she quickly understands that everything in that city has a price and begins to craft a way in which she can reverse her fortune. But just how much is her freedom going to cost her?
The Wolf Den is book one of The Wolf Den trilogy. Amara’s story is continued in book two, The House With the Golden Door and book three The Temple of Fortuna which will be published on 23 November this year. Antonia Beamish does a fantastic job narrating this story and transporting the reader to ancient Pompeii. This series focuses on love, resilience and strength which made it a great pick for Women’s History month.
Cameron’s Pick: A Vindication of the Rights of Women, Narrated by Fiona Shaw
I love history and whilst I never got to realise my lofty ambitions whilst studying it at university, it is why for this week's pick I am going with a stone cold classic. Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women is an essential, foundational book on women’s rights and feminist theory. An extraordinary woman from an extraordinary family who lived an extraordinary life, Mary Wollstonecraft defied her contemporaries by saying that women could be far more than mere wives to their husbands and were essential to the running of the nation due to the role they played in the education of children. Something very interesting in her construction of the work, is the mixture of masculine and feminine language she uses. She describes her work as a “treatise” which is indicative of the male-dominated field of philosophy, but also uses the pronouns “I” and “you” which are seen as very feminine and more importantly, personal. She combines the rational rhetoric of philosophers with the provocative and inflammatory sensibility of her own fierce views, often aimed at Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s contemporary writing on female education.
There are many controversial views upheld in the work and I’d highly recommend anyone interested in feminist theory to read it, as it is shockingly put together. I chose the version narrated by Fiona Shaw, who provides the narration with great depth and respect for the piece. You can tell that she has worked extensively in theatre and the performing arts and the book is that much better for it. This is especially true for the sections of the book where Wollstonecraft is at her blunt and witty best, where her own views clearly seep through her efforts of writing a treatise, as she’d call it. It is ground-breaking, brilliant and I’d highly recommend it for anyone, no matter their interests. See also her daughter Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. As I said, an extraordinary family.
Sarunicka’s Pick: Everything I Know About Love, Narrated by Dolly Alderton
Everything I Know About Love is a candid memoir, written and narrated by British-Canadian journalist and broadcaster Dolly Alderton. Dolly recounts her experiences of early adulthood – covering everything from heartaches and humiliations to wrestling with self-sabotage and finding a job. It weaves together personal stories, satirical observations, a series of lists and other vignettes to provide a listen that is heartfelt, honest and filled with wit.
I wanted to recommend this listen for our International Women’s Day issue because of the light it sheds on the power of female friendships. In a world which continues to profit off women being pitted against each other, it serves as a reminder of the immeasurable role other women play in our lives and the bond there is in sisterhood.
Ultimately, Everything I Know About Love is one woman’s story of growing up and growing stronger whilst navigating all kinds of love along the way. It encompasses the struggles of early adulthood in all its messy, hopeful and wonderful uncertainty that anyone currently navigating their twenties can relate to. Dolly’s narration showcases her genuineness and reiterates this message. All in all, this is a listen for those of you seeking some comfort in being a woman and young adult who is just figuring things out.