As far as I know, the British don’t have a term like the Danish hygge to describe the concept of coziness, but there’s something about dreary London Town or the English countryside that makes me feel extra warm and content in cold weather. Think of afternoon tea in front of the fireplace, or sipping brandy after a dinner party. Think of the hand-knit scarves and overcoats, the jumpers! (Why is jumper such a delightful alternative to sweater?)
Now that the temperature has dropped here in Louisville (cool enough for me to pull out my jumper), I’m enjoying longer walks with Daisy, which means extra audiobook listening. British-narrated audiobooks immerse me in the setting, and some of my absolute favorite narrators have delightful accents.
I know I’m not the only one who loves an audiobook narrator with an accent. Today I’m sharing 15 titles featuring amazing British narrators and immersive English settings. There’s a little something for every reader on this list, whether you like gritty mysteries, romantic classics, or witty British humor.
Readers, I know you have some favorite British books to share. I’d love to hear them, whether they’re great on audio or on the page. Leave a comment below and add to our list of cozy British stories.
UPDATE 10/6/20: We deleted one book from this list, so it now includes 14 selections. Please enjoy browsing the comments section for dozens of additional recommendations.
Pride and Prejudice should be read in the spring; Emma in the summer. But Persuasion is for colder months. Don't bother starting at the beginning with Austen's earlier, brighter works. Go straight to her sixth and final published novel. This the last novel Austen completed before her death, and it's darker and more serious in tone than her earlier works. With its themes of love, regret, and fidelity, this is my favorite Austen novel—at least some of the time. Juliet Stevenson is one of my favorite narrators for Austen's works. (8 hours 42 minutes) More info →
An iconic literary heroine from an iconic female author. Pick up this gothic romance for confessions of love, wandering the English countryside, and timely themes. Brontë's famous novel was astonishingly modern for 1847, so if you never read it in high school, now is the perfect time to read this atmospheric classic. If you were forced to read it back then, give it another try. Thandie Newton’s excellent narration may be the ticket this time around. (19 hours) More info →
Who really wrote Pride and Prejudice? That mystery drives this literary thriller, which plunges the reader into the world of first editions, secondhand books, and zealous collectors. When a young librarian discovers a document that casts doubt on Austen’s authorship of Pride and Prejudice, she struggles to clear her beloved author of plagiarist charges before it’s too late. Lovett flips back and forth between the time when Jane was writing her best-known story and today’s desperate race to prove her innocence. Lovett’s love of books permeates every page. Farfetched? Of course, but piles (stacks?) of fun for booklovers. Lovely on audio, as narrated by Jayne Entwistle. (11 hours) More info →
Flavia de Luce is a precocious 11 year-old chemist and amateur sleuth. In the summer of 1950, she finds a dead bird on the doorstep of her family's crumbling manor house, a stamp affixed to its beak. Later that day, she comes across a dead man in the garden. For Flavia, these mysterious events are both frightening and exciting. She says, "I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn't. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life." Thus follows her investigation, a delightful coming-of-age mystery starring one of the most charming heroines ever written. This series is FABULOUS on audio; narrated by Jayne Entwistle.
A hefty, believable, meticulously researched fictional take on Tudor England in the Cromwell era. Cromwell is one of the more mysterious characters of history, and Mantel does a solid job of filling in the blanks. The readers with great taste I rely on for recommendations are split on this one: some love it, some hate it. Either way, this 2009 Man Booker Prize winner is widely praised for its inventiveness. I picked a beautiful red copy up at a library book sale a few years ago and it’s been mocking me from my shelves ever since: it might be time to pick this up on audio instead, because I hear Simon Slater's narration is fabulous. (23 hours) More info →
This is the world's best-selling mystery—and when I found out the audio version was read by Dan Stevens, I couldn't resist. (Loved it.) Ten strangers are lured to a deserted island, and then they begin dying, one by one, victims of a disturbingly wide range of murders. They share one thing in common: each has something in their past they would prefer to keep hidden. Who is the murderer, and will any of them survive? (6 hours) More info →
In this murder mystery, British detective Cormoran Strike and his trusty sidekick Robin Ellacott investigate a supermodel's suspicious suicide. I found the plot compellingly twisty, the characters interesting, the rapport between the two investigators my favorite part. I was leery to do this on audio because of the HSP factor, but aside from a few brief descriptions of the crime scene (and a whole lot of f-bombs) it was fine, and besides, I loved Robert Glenister's British accent. First-rate murder mysteries; highly recommended for Louise Penny fans. (16 hours) More info →
Lady Emily Hardcastle and her companion Florence Armstrong just moved to the English countryside, hoping to pursue leisurely interests and enjoy neighborly gatherings. After a few days of regaling one another with tales from their top secret past, Emily and Flo find it impossible to sit still. When they discover a dead body in the woods, they eagerly offer to help investigate the murder. Much to the village's surprise, these two ladies are exceedingly skilled at detective work. They’re also hilarious; their witty banter makes for a delightful listening experience, as narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden. (7 hours 43 mins) More info →
Editor Susan Ryeland has worked with Alan Conway for years, putting up with his eccentricities for the sake of his bestselling detective series. Every Atticus Pünd mystery novel feels pretty much the same to Susan by now, each one set in a small English village, following an Agatha Christie-like formula. When Susan reads Conway’s latest, however, she finds there might be more to the fictional mystery at Pye Hall. The more she reads, the more she becomes convinced of a real life mystery between the pages. A tale of greed and gruesome murder prompts Susan to investigate in this clever novel-within-a-novel, narrated by Samantha Bond and Allan Corduner. (15 hours 47 mins) More info →
I waited far too long to read this one. Jim Mustich, author of 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die, and I chatted about Ishiguro’s famous novel on Episode 165 of What Should I Read Next. If you’re craving a road trip through the English countryside, or you just saw the Downton Abbey movie and need more stories of upstairs-downstairs dynamics, this book is for you—especially as narrated by Nicholas Guy Smith. Stevens, longtime butler of an English country estate, takes a much-needed vacation to drive through the country and visit friends. Over the course of his trip, he reflects on his past exposing his quiet and unseen role in history. This book is indeed worth reading in this lifetime. (7 hours) More info →
This hilarious standalone novel is a perfect introduction to Wodehouse's quirky humor. Beatrice Chavender is visiting her sister just outside of London. At breakfast, she takes a bite of "inferior ham." and soon everyone around her suffers the consequences. Sprinkle in some romance, and plenty of ridiculous antics, and this novel is simply a joy to read. It leaps off the page like a 1940's MGM musical or an Oscar Wilde play. If you enjoy British humor, this is a must-read. Narrated by Simon Vance. (5 hours 23 minutes) More info →
Who says bedtime stories are just for kids? Winnie the Pooh is timeless, and there’s nothing like a warm, cozy tale of friendship to end your day on a happy note. This audiobook version features talented British actors Stephen Fry and Judi Dench, who bring the Hundred Acre Wood to life. Listen to "Pooh Goes Visiting" and other stories as a family readalong or as part of your introvert self-care routine. (2 hours) More info →
Nikki has spent most of adulthood distancing herself from her family's Sikh traditions, but when her father's unexpected death leaves the family in dire financial straits, she finds a new job teaching creative writing at London’s Punjabi community center. Due to a miscommunication, the Sikh widows show up to class expecting to learn basic English language skills, and Nikki isn't sure what to do. One day, a student brings in a collection of sexy stories to read in English. The women are intrigued, and Nikki quickly realizes that beneath their prim and proper exteriors, the widows hold romantic histories and fantasies in their hearts. Beneath this heartwarming tale of community and the power of storytelling is a compelling mystery. I couldn't stop listening to find out what happens next. Narrated by Meera Syal. (10 hours 34 minutes) More info →
Arthur Conan Doyle's circle of friends included James Barrie, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Oscar Wilde. I like to imagine these men, among other literary icons, at their private soirees and seances, parsing out plotlines over glasses of brandy. These conversations likely inspired several of Sherlock Holmes' adventures, which are perfect when you're in the mood for iconic British characters, settings, and themes. Narrated by Simon Vance, the audiobook enhances Holmes and Watson's witticisms and quibbles as they gather clues. (58 hours) More info →