The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

Confessions ofThe Confessions of Frannie Langton was an impressive debut and an intriguing read.  Ultimately it’s the rather sad story of one young woman’s life.  Born into slavery, Frannie Langton spent her first few years on a Jamaican sugar plantation, ironically called Paradise, before being taken by her master to London and given away as a house servant.

I enjoyed this read, it was certainly told in a compelling way and in spite of a few issues I think it was an impressive debut.

Frannie is in prison.  She’s accused of the murder of her former employers and due to stand trial.  With very little hope of being found innocent she decides to write down her own story.  She takes us back to her earliest memories on the plantation and slowly but surely gives us her account of the events that led up to the murders.  What makes this account so intriguing is that Frannie is well spoken and can read and write.  She was an experiment of sorts, her master at the plantation wishing to see how far he could take her education.  Her sharp mind and ability to learn land her in difficulties, she becomes invaluable to her master as a scribe, taking down notes of his experiments which unfortunately are of a very grim nature.  One thing leads to another and Frannie is taken to London and left as a servant in the Benham household.

I would say that this story has two aspects to it.  There’s the mystery of the murder and events leading up to it and there’s the mystery of Frannie’s past and the links between her former master and her new employer Benham and the hideous experiments they undertook together.  Personally, I felt like this story would have worked better if it had focused more on Frannie and the murder mystery.  For me, the experimentation side of the story felt like it was added in to create a sensation or maybe to come up with new territory but I didn’t really feel like it added anything to the murder/mystery aspect of the story and in a way the mystery behind the experiments and the build up to the revelation felt like it stole some of the thunder from the events that led up to the murders.

What I really enjoyed about this was the writing and the ease in which the author depicts life, either at the plantation or in the Georgian home that Frannie is taken to.  Frannie has a lovely narrative voice and is very easy to read.  She’s maybe not always her own best friend, she certainly doesn’t make friends easily but I can’t really fault her for sticking up for herself even if others think her headstrong.

This is at heart a sad tale.  Things were never really going to work out well for Frannie.  She becomes addicted not only to laudanum but also to the love of her new mistress.  Marguerite is trapped in an unhappy marriage.  In a way she’s almost like a slave (although a very pampered, indolent and privileged one).  She practically lives in one room of the house, brought out as little more than decoration when it suits her husband.  To be honest I didn’t really like Marguerite.  Of course I felt sorry for her in a loveless marriage, she was trapped to an extent but I also felt like she also played with the lives of others with little regard for their welfare.

Frannie meanwhile has become something of an Eliza Doolittle.  With her well spoken manner and ability to read and write she’s definitely out of place.  She doesn’t fit in with the downstairs staff and she doesn’t fit in with the upstairs quality.  She quite literally becomes besotted with Marguerite which eventually leads to petty jealousies and a rift that sees her banished from the household.

I won’t elaborate on the story.  There’s a mystery to be uncovered here that is best discovered whilst reading.

Overall, I thought this was a good read.  I think the pacing was a little slow in the first half but it wasn’t something that really bothered me too much as I was enjoying Frannie’s account.  Personally, I think there’s a little too much going on in terms of the two different storylines but I enjoyed this even if, as I mentioned above, it’s a sad tale.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.




10 Responses to “The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins”

  1. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Reading your review, it’s easy to see that there is already an interesting story in Frannie’s journey, and I can imagine how the secondary narrative thread about the experiments might have felt like an intrusion. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s not a bad intrusion at the end of the day and didn’t spoil the read for me – because the voice here is really interesting and well written, but, in a picky world I would have preferred the focus to be on the murder mystery.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Tammy

    I do like the sound of this. And I love the cover!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s actually a really good read. I did have a small issue with the two different mysteries at play, but that’s because I think the murder mystery could stand by itself. But, great writing and a really good narrative voice
      Lynn 😀

  3. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I remember seeing this featured on one of your past Waiting on Wednesdays! I’m glad you got to read it. I do recall thinking this sounds like a rather sad tale when I read the description, but I’m glad that overall you enjoyed it and you discovered a good debut author.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Overall it was a great read, my little issues didn’t detract at all – although it’s not a happy ending type of book. Very good writing and a lovely narrative voice.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Carmen

    You make it sound fascinating reading. Too bad that both threads of the story don’t work together that well. Still, it seems like an entertaining read.

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was a good read – I think you might enjoy it tbh. I’m probably being a bit fussy about the two storylines but to me it felt a little like the author didn’t think the murder mystery could stand on it’s own – and I think it could have. It was an easy to read story though and that one small issue didn’t put me off at all.
      Lynn 😀

  5. waytoofantasy

    Great review, Lynn. This sounds like an interesting read, at least, and different from what I normally read. I do love a mystery. May have to think about adding this one.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I enjoyed it. I had a couple of issues but overall the narrative voice was really good. I liked the mystery element and the setting. It is something of a sad story though.
      Lynn 😀

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