“A startling, compelling historical debut novel. . . should be on top of your vacation reading pile.” -The Washington Post
“A stunning debut. . . . I love this book.” -Guardian
"Reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace . . . [a] devious, richly detailed debut." -O: The Oprah Magazine
A servant and former slave is accused of murdering her employer and his wife in this astonishing historical thriller that moves from a Jamaican sugar plantation to the fetid streets of Georgian London—a remarkable literary debut with echoes of Alias Grace,The Underground Railroad, and The Paying Guests.All of London is abuzz with the scandalous case of Frannie Langton, accused of the brutal double murder of her employers, renowned scientist George Benham and his eccentric French wife, Marguerite. Crowds pack the courtroom, eagerly following every twist, while the newspapers print lurid theories about the killings and the mysterious woman being tried at the Old Bailey.
The testimonies against Frannie are damning. She is a seductress, a witch, a master manipulator, a whore.
But Frannie claims she cannot recall what happened that fateful evening, even if remembering could save her life. She doesn’t know how she came to be covered in the victims’ blood. But she does have a tale to tell: a story of her childhood on a Jamaican plantation, her apprenticeship under a debauched scientist who stretched all bounds of ethics, and the events that brought her into the Benhams’ London home—and into a passionate and forbidden relationship.
Though her testimony may seal her conviction, the truth will unmask the perpetrators of crimes far beyond murder and indict the whole of English society itself.
The Confessions of Frannie Langton is a breathtaking debut: a murder mystery that travels across the Atlantic and through the darkest channels of history. A brilliant, searing depiction of race, class, and oppression that penetrates the skin and sears the soul, it is the story of a woman of her own making in a world that would see her unmade.
Sara Collins is of Jamaican descent and grew up in Grand Cayman and studied law at the London School of Economics and worked as a lawyer for seventeen years before doing a Master of Studies in Creative Writing at Cambridge University, where she was the recipient of the 2015 Michael Holroyd Prize for Creative Writing. Twitter: @mrsjaneymac
Some of the language, conversations and descriptions are as pertinent today as in the period the author chronicled the story.A well researched, well written novel.
5 months ago
The Confessions of Frannie Langton has an amazing start. Frannie, a mulatta, is charged with the murder of George and Marguerite Benham. George was found with blood all over him and Frannie is found in bed with blood all over next to Marguerite. She does not remember what happened. As she awaits trial, she writes her life story.
This is where the story starts to fails for me. I feel like it is a first draft and needs lots of editing. So many story lines that go on and on. If edited, I think this book would be five stars as it shows how scientists try to prove scientific racism, the male treatment of slaves, a kind mistress in Jamaica who teaches Frances to read, the absolute control of Master Langton (her father) in Jamaica and George Benham in London.
Just too many subplots! Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Collins for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
7 months ago
This was a well researched, well written historical novel. It is, however, very sexually graphic in places and in the last 1/3 contains S&M. I skipped a lot, myself. It's a good story if you can get past the sexual stuff.
Our story begins with the youth of Frannie in Jamacia. She is born of a black slave, but proficient in reading and writing and spends years helping her white abusive father with his pseudo-scientific work, much of it which she cannot stomach but as a slave, she has no choice. As a young adult, she is taken to London by that white father. Fannie is aware that the laws of England make her automatically free, but her father gifts her services to a fellow scientist and author and his wife, in exchange for his backing on a project begun in Jamacia. Her servitude lasts only until the novelty of a black mulatta servant and lover wears off, and she is homeless and alone working in the streets of 1826 London. It is a hard world in Georgian England, and she is now a soiled dove, friendless and on trial for murder after the heinous deaths of the London couple she served. Who will hear her side of the tale from Newgate Prison? Who will help her in the dock?
I received a free electronic copy of this historical novel from Netgalley, Sarah Collins, and Harper Collins Publishers. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work.
7 months ago
I received an advanced digital copy of this book from the author, Netgalley.com and Harper Collins Publishing. Thanks to all for the opportunity to read and review.
The Confessions of Frannie Langton is sure to become one of the best historical fiction novels of the year. Written as a letter to her lawyers, Frannie tells her story, from it's Jamaican plantation house slave beginning to how she came to England to live in her employer's household as a servant. Rich in detail, the reader is immersed in both worlds and the laws of the times in which Frannie lived.
I look forward to reading more from Ms. Collins in the future.
5 out of 5 stars. Highly recommended.
7 months ago
Frannie is a slave accused of killing her masters. She doesn't believe she would ever hurt her mistress but she isn't sure. As she considers her fate and remembers her past, the reader experiences reasons this seemingly harmless woman could have for committing murder. It isn't so much shocking as depressing to read about her life and treatment throughout her life. At times, the language was cumbersome and it felt a little sluggish, but overall the story got me past that. You are at once hopeful for and disturbed by Frannie as you read about her life and her past and everything that brought her to the place we find her in, waiting for her own death.
7 months ago
This one is a hard one to review, and I think I’m going to have to go against the grain from the previous opinions. Several times I really thought about stopping along the way, but I’m one of those that feels if I started it, I need to finish it. So, I did.
The description doesn’t really give all the details of this story, it is more like a diary in stories written of her life, going from childhood to her incarceration for allegedly killing her previous employer and his wife. I didn’t realize we were going to cover a lot of opium usage, scientific experiments, and a lesbian affair. Yes, Frannie Langton had a most unfortunate life.
I also felt at some times, it just babbled, it went into deep discussions that truly didn’t have anything to do with the grand scheme of things. I do wish the trial would have been done in much greater lengths, that was the best part of the entire book. To listen to the people on the stand give their opinions, criticize and sometimes actually interrupt the lawyers that were interrogating them was so interesting.
The writing was good but I never became fully invested in Frannie and you really needed to pay attention in order to fully understand the depth of this one. Unfortunately, this is a 3*** for me.
I was given an advanced copy from HarperCollins Publishers through Net Galley for my honest review, this one gets a 3***’s.
7 months ago
This novel piqued my interest from the first page, but, unfortunately I found it very slow moving in places. Eventually toward the end of the book the story picks up the pace, and my questions were answered. Frannie Langton's story is at times difficult to read. The often horrific life she is forced to endure is heartbreaking. But she is a strong woman who perseveres. I was hoping for a different ending, but unfortunately it ended realistically. Historical fiction fans may enjoy this book.
Thank you to the Publisher and Netgalley for allowing me to review this novel.
8 months ago
In this debut historical novel, we follow Frannie Langton from a sugar plantation in Jamaica to a courtroom in London where she stands accused of murdering her employers. As we read, the evidence against her mounts until there seems to be no way she’s not guilty. Frannie, though, is not entirely sure she was the one who did the killing. She just doesn’t remember.
This is a well-written book and Collins brings Frannie Langton to life from her days as a slave to her writing her life’s story while awaiting trial. Collins takes her time telling Frannie’s story and the book may seem to slow almost to a standstill, but the pace is appropriate for such a story as Frannie’s.
If you love historical fiction, put this book on your TBR.
Thanks to Harper and Edelweiss for an eArc.
8 months ago
4,5 rounded up to 5 stars!
The Mulatta Murderess, as people of London call Frannie Langton, is on trial for a murder of Mr. and Mrs. Bunham. The reader gets to know Frannie’s past and the circumstances that led her inside of 1820s England’s courtroom through Frannie’s confessions which she writes to her lawyer. She leads us on a painful, horrifying, and truly unnerving journey of her life, from living as a house-girl on a Jamaican plantation to her life in London, as a “secretary” to Meg Bunham. We get to know Frannie as a proud, headstrong, and courageous individual who in the end is just looking for someone to love her and for a place to belong to. Her turbulent relationships, first with John Langton, the plantation owner, and later with Meg Bunham, show how truly disturbed and lost Frannie is. Her character is an unusual one due to her complexity and many layers that she slowly sheds when facing all the spine-chilling events in her life. Anger, sadness, addiction, loss, love, frustration, disappointment, need of belonging, and hope are all the things that lead Frannie into the horrid circumstances she finds herself in, but most of all, it is her inability to set herself free from all the devious and calculating people in her life that finally pushes her toward committing truly horrifying and despicable act.
This novel has everything: history, drama, mystery, legal and moral issues, slavery, science, murder, physical and mental abuse, and even romance. There are so many layers to this beautiful story, and the writing is truly exquisite. It is definitely a new kind of story for me, and I enjoyed every single moment of it. I think Frannie is and will be one of my favorite characters in 2019, and she will stay with me for a quite some time.
Thank you NetGalley, Harper Collins publisher, and the author, Sara Collins for giving me an opportunity to read this beautiful story in exchange for my honest opinion.
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