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.

 

 

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Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins.

Confessions.jpgThey 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?

Due for publication: April 2019