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The Confessions of Frannie Langton

Narrated by: Sara Collins, Roy McMillan
Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)
Regular price: £21.99
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Summary

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of The Confessions of Frannie Langton, written and read by Sara Collins.  

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?

©2019 Sara Collins (P)2019 Penguin Books Ltd

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An astonishing literary debut

I have recently been lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of ‘The Confessions of Frannie Langton’ by Sara Collins and have also listened to it on Audible. If a page turner is a book that is constantly surprising, that keeps you on your toes - chasing the twists and relishing the turns - then THIS novel is a page turner. I did not want to put it down.

From a slave plantation in Jamaica, to life as a lady’s maid in a grand Georgian town house, via a London bawdy house, to the court rooms of the Old Bailey, tried for the double murder of her ‘master’ and ‘mistress’. We follow the story of Frannie Langton, through her own words, via her confessions to her lawyer.

But how do I describe it? A murder-mystery? A gothic horror? An exploration of eugenics and scientific racism? A compelling and obsessive, lesbian romance? It’s all these things and more. Written with wit and finesse, very well researched and with much attention paid to historical detail.

I've never read a book that so vividly paints a picture of its protagonist's emotional progress. What joy to intricately follow Frannie's journey, geographically and psychologically. And it’s an emotional journey too, gut wrenching at times, but without ever being 'sickly-sweet'.

In fact, I became so invested in Frannie that sometimes I wanted to shake her and tell her not to do something or not to say something. But there’s nothing to be done about it. THIS woman has a mind of her own. And it’s testament to the author’s skills that as a reader you care.

Collins does not succumb to lazy stereotypes when writing her characters either. And not just the main characters but also those waiting in the wings to take their turn. All are three dimensional, with fully formed back stories, no matter how small their part. Look out in particular for Laddie and Sal, both integral to the storyline.

The narrative comes alive with the author's use of metaphors and similes: ‘The black night crouches, like a watchman, at the glass’. So simple yet so effective. It’s the use of language like this that helps so vividly to paint a portrait of the book’s varied landscapes in your minds’ eye. And what landscapes! The author sweeps back and forth between Continents in a way reminiscent of Bram Stoker's ‘Dracula’.

And so in summary, this book vividly touches upon the horrors of slavery without ever being a book ABOUT slavery. It touches upon life as a domestic maid, without ever turning into Downton Abbey. It delves into an illicit, obsessive love affair between mistress and servant without ever becoming ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’. It’s about all these things and so much more. But that’s the point. There is more to Frannie then meets the eye. She has a voice and a story to tell and she WILL confess it in her own, unique way.

An original, astonishing, powerful, thought-provoking novel, written with humour and intelligence. If there’s one book you read or listen to this year, make it this one.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful