Susanne Dunlap’s Listen to the Wind is an engaging work of historical fiction replete with sympathetic characters. The novel is set in thirteenth-century Languedoc, a time when families are torn apart by religious persecution. Azemar and Azalaïs are given into the “care” of a band of outlaws when they are very young, supposedly for their own protection. When fate casts the friends separate ways, they vow to meet again. Survivors at their core, each creates a new life among others but their secrets keep them solitary. Always at the mercy of the good and ill will of others, neither knows their true origins nor how to return to them. However it turns out, it is certain that their lots are meant to be drawn together.
In designing Azemar’s and Azalaïs’s character arcs, Dunlap fabricates an imaginary history on the scaffolding of Inquisitionesque terror. The fortitude and ingenuity of her characters helps them adapt to all manner of circumstances, and the result is an engaging tale of escape, secrets, and mental toughness. For those looking for a smartly written captivating read, I highly recommend this first book in the Orphans of Tolosa trilogy.
Susanne Dunlap is the author of six historical novels, two for adults, four for young adults. Her forthcoming adult historical novel, Listen to the Wind, is the first book in the Orphans of Tolosa trilogy. Susanne is a graduate of Smith College and has a Ph.D. in music history from Yale. She lives and writes in Northampton, MA.