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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."

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

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.

Read our 'Book-aneers of the Caribbean' listicle to find more unforgettable books by Caribbean writers.

Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.

Joanne Owen

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Reader Reviews

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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.

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.

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.

Alexandra Harper-Williams