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The Confessions of Frannie Langton

by Sara Collins

Relationship Stories Historical fiction Books with reviews by our Reader Review Panel Sharing Diverse Voices Debut Books of the Month Debuts Star Books

LoveReading Expert Review of The Confessions of Frannie Langton

Gripping Georgian crime scandal, passionate love, powerful Jamaican slave narrative - this consummate debut is a dazzling set of nesting dolls, a multi-layered triumph of storytelling.

The Old Bailey, 1826 and Frannie Langton stands in court accused of the brutal murder of her former master and mistress. But “there was love between me and her”, she tells the court as she relates her story from 1812, when she worked at Paradise plantation, Jamaica. With the skills of reading and writing “packed inside” her, “dangerous as gunpowder”, Frannie is taken to London and sent to work for a man named George Benham. His wife, the beautiful, eccentric Madame Marguerite Benham “stirred a feeling of wanting” in Frannie, and she becomes Madame’s lady’s maid and secretary - and more. But theirs is a complex, volatile relationship. “The truth is there was love as well as hate,” Frannie acknowledges. “The truth is, the love hurt worse”.

Speaking at her trial, during which she recounts the inhumane racial experimentation undertaken by the master of Paradise, Frannie asks, “Sirs, I wonder...in the whole sum of human history, by what order have you white men been wrong more than you’ve been right?” She also questions the privileges and entitlements of gender: “how confident a man must be to write down his musings, expecting anybody else to be interested in reading them”. 

Ablaze with drama, detail, tension and wit, and wise on the nature of agency and freedom, this comes highly recommended for fans of Andrea Levy’s The Long Song, Marlon James’s The Book of Night Women and Sarah Waters. 

According to Frannie, “A novel is like a long, warm drink but a poem is a spike through the head”. By her definition, this novel is both these things - as potent as a poem, as addictive as a long, warm drink.

Have a look at our Ambassador Book Buzz for The Confessions of Frannie Langton.

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Joanne Owen

The Confessions of Frannie Langton Synopsis

'They say I must be put to death for what happened to Madame, and they want me to confess. But how can I confess what I don't believe I've done?' 1826, and all of London is in a frenzy. Crowds gather at the gates of the Old Bailey to watch as Frannie Langton, maid to Mr and Mrs Benham, goes on trial for their murder. The testimonies against her are damning - slave, whore, seductress. And they may be the truth. But they are not the whole truth. For the first time Frannie must tell her story. It begins with a girl learning to read on a plantation in Jamaica, and it ends in a grand house in London, where a beautiful woman waits to be freed. But through her fevered confessions, one burning question haunts Frannie Langton: could she have murdered the only person she ever loved?

About This Edition

ISBN: 9780241984017
Publication date: 1st August 2019
Author: Sara Collins
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 384 pages
Primary Genre Historical fiction
Other Genres:
Recommendations:
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The Confessions of Frannie Langton Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

Brilliant and original book - gothic murder mystery, historical novel, love story and a lot more.

What a captivating and thought-provoking story! And I am amazed that such a well constructed and beautifully written book is a debut novel.

Frannie is in prison accused of a double murder and looks back on her life from a slave plantation in Jamaica to the London of the 1820s with its balls and luxury but with a hidden side of sin and addiction. Frannie herself is a very appealing character, intelligent and caring but subject to some appalling atrocities.

There are so many enjoyable aspects - the gothic feel reminiscent of Sarah Waters, the murder mystery, a love story and the authentic historical feel of the period. The pacing is cleverly done as we gradually find out more about Frannie's background. Then there are the psychological insights and some chapters written as extracts from scientific papers concerning theories about race. Altogether an amazing and original novel.

Ann Peet

Brilliant and original book - gothic murder mystery, historical novel, love story and a lot more.

What a captivating and thought-provoking story! And I am amazed that such a well constructed and beautifully written book is a debut novel.

Frannie is in prison accused of a double murder and looks back on her life from a slave plantation in Jamaica to the London of the 1820s with its balls and luxury but with a hidden side of sin and addiction. Frannie herself is a very appealing character, intelligent and caring but subject to some appalling atrocities.

There are so many enjoyable aspects - the gothic feel reminiscent of Sarah Waters, the murder mystery, a love story and the authentic historical feel of the period. The pacing is cleverly done as we gradually find out more about Frannie's background. Then there are the psychological insights and some chapters written as extracts from scientific papers concerning theories about race. Altogether an amazing and original novel.

Ann Peet

What a debut! Gritty, dark, hard-hitting, sensitive and eye-opening regarding women’s lives in the 19th Century.

This novel is written from the point of view of Frannie, who grew up in the 19th Century in Jamaica as a slave. When she is brought to London and given away to a family to become their servant, we follow her life with all its difficulties and challenges.

Layer by layer is peeled away and we finally find out the whole truth of what has happened to her and why she is on trial for murder at the beginning of the book.

This is an outstanding debut novel! Frannie is a complex heroine, a former slave, who is a born survivor, sometimes to a degree that is frightening. A tale of love, horror, disappointment, anger, delight, despair! I’m sure this novel will resonate with so many readers as it has with me. I'm looking forward to reading more by this fantastic author in the future.

Alexandra Harper-Williams

What a debut! Gritty, dark, hard-hitting, sensitive and eye-opening regarding women’s lives in the 19th Century.

This novel is written from the point of view of Frannie, who grew up in the 19th Century in Jamaica as a slave. When she is brought to London and given away to a family to become their servant, we follow her life with all its difficulties and challenges.

Layer by layer is peeled away and we finally find out the whole truth of what has happened to her and why she is on trial for murder at the beginning of the book.

This is an outstanding debut novel! Frannie is a complex heroine, a former slave, who is a born survivor, sometimes to a degree that is frightening. A tale of love, horror, disappointment, anger, delight, despair! I’m sure this novel will resonate with so many readers as it has with me. I'm looking forward to reading more by this fantastic author in the future.

Alexandra Harper-Williams

A enjoyable debut novel that I recommend reading.

When this book arrived in the post I wasn’t entirely sure what it was about. I thought it was another book about slavery. However, it not your normal Slave story, which was a nice change.

I found the book to be a well written historical fiction with a whodunnit factor, that brings London to life in the early 19th Century. Although slow at times, I found the storyline to be very interesting and quite compelling. I liked how it kept me wanting to discover where the story was going and to find out who the murderer was. Also, there was a small section in the book where I thought the storyline lost its way and to be honest I did lose a little interest during this bit.

I liked how the book is written in the first person, from Frannie’s point of view. I do like first-person narratives in these sorts of books as I feel it adds to the atmosphere and it makes you feel like you are right there listening to the character.

There is a vast array of characters which were very complex yet interesting.

Although a slow burner, overall this book is a well-researched and interesting debut novel, that I enjoyed reading. I look forward to seeing what else Sara Collins has to offer in the future, I will definitely be keeping an eye out. A book I would recommend reading.

Manisha

A enjoyable debut novel that I recommend reading.

When this book arrived in the post I wasn’t entirely sure what it was about. I thought it was another book about slavery. However, it not your normal Slave story, which was a nice change.

I found the book to be a well written historical fiction with a whodunnit factor, that brings London to life in the early 19th Century. Although slow at times, I found the storyline to be very interesting and quite compelling. I liked how it kept me wanting to discover where the story was going and to find out who the murderer was. Also, there was a small section in the book where I thought the storyline lost its way and to be honest I did lose a little interest during this bit.

I liked how the book is written in the first person, from Frannie’s point of view. I do like first-person narratives in these sorts of books as I feel it adds to the atmosphere and it makes you feel like you are right there listening to the character.

There is a vast array of characters which were very complex yet interesting.

Although a slow burner, overall this book is a well-researched and interesting debut novel, that I enjoyed reading. I look forward to seeing what else Sara Collins has to offer in the future, I will definitely be keeping an eye out. A book I would recommend reading.

Manisha

Sara Collins Press Reviews

I loved it...Not only a good read but an important book, reminding us of both how far the world has come and how little it has changed. I was gripped, amused, and saddened. I ate Sara Collins' words up as though they were the sugar, or laudanum, that she writes about so evocatively. It's a glory of a book. -- Stephanie Butland

I loved this novel. A literary page-turner, an engrossing murder mystery, and a deep meditation on freedom, choice, and what it means to have a voice, Sara Collins' writing is as seductive as it is elusive - just like Frannie Langton herself. For all its horrors, I could have dallied in this opium-addled world with Frannie endlessly, another addict, hooked on Collins' words. -- Rebecca F. John, author of 'The Haunting of Henry Twist'

'I usually pick proofs up, read the blurb, maybe read a few pages... and that is usually that. This time, I started reading it - and then I couldn't stop. Sara Collins has created a tough, fiery, vividly alive character. Beautifully written, in crisp and careful prose; but more than that, it comes across as a story that's been waiting to be written for a very long time...[Collins] has picked up the tradition of gothic fiction and made it brand new.' -- Stef Penney, author of 'The Tenderness of Wolves'

A seductive and entrancing read, with captivating historical detail...The Confessions of Frannie Langton is an extremely powerful book that resonates long after the final page has been turned. -- Laura Carlin, author of 'The Wicked Cometh'

A book of heart, soul and guts...beautifully written, lushly evocative, and righteously furious. Frannie might be a 19th century character, but she is also a heroine for our times -- Elizabeth Day, author of 'The Party'

By turns lush, gritty, wry, gothic and compulsive, The Confessions of Frannie Langton is a dazzlingly page turner. With as much psychological savvy as righteous wrath, Sara Collins twists together the slave narrative, bildungsroman, love story and crime novel to make something new.' -- Emma Donoghue, author of 'Room'

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9780241984017
Publication date: 01/08/2019
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780241349199
Publication date: 04/04/2019
Format: Hardback

View All Editions

About Sara Collins

Sara Collins is of Jamaican descent and worked as a lawyer for seventeen years in Cayman, before admitting that what she really wanted to do was write novels. She studied Creative Writing at Cambridge University, winning the 2015 Michael Holroyd Prize, and began to write a book inspired by the idea of 'writing a Gothic novel where the heroine looked like me'. This turned into her first novel, The Confessions of Frannie Langton.

More About Sara Collins

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