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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.
'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?
In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.
Brilliant and original book - gothic murder mystery, historical novel, love story and a lot more. Full review
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'
Publication date: 04/04/2019
Publisher: Viking an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd
|Publication date:||4th April 2019|
|Publisher:||Viking an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd|
|Genres:||Reader Reviewed Books, Debuts of the Month, Historical Fiction, Relationship Stories, Star Books,|
|Categories:||Historical fiction, Historical romance, Historical mysteries, Colonialism & imperialism,|
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