The Confessions of Frannie Langton

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

Did Frances Langton commit murder?

It is 1826 and Frances Langton, also known as Ebony Fran and more recently the Mulatta Murderess, is on trial in London for the murder of her master and mistress. Somewhere in her confused mind, she knows that she could not have committed this atrocity. As Frances is shoved into the dock, she cannot but notice the items laid out on the bench – evidence against her. Then she sees it, and her innards twist into a knot as tight as the thing curled up in the jar. 

Any crime has two stories – the story of the crime and the story of the prisoner. Frances Langton is given a fresh quill and instructions to explain herself. Instead, she writes her memoirs in an attempt to bring clarity. All Frannie remembers of that night is waking under the suffocation of blood-soaked bedsheets, her mistress lying dead beside her. Perhaps if she starts from the very beginning, in Paradise, and follows the thread of her life, she can make sense of it all. Recollections of the Langton sugar plantation in Jamaica bring memories of Pibbah and Miss-Bella. They were the three women of Paradise. But Paradise was a place of injustice, and Frances knows it is time to confess to the inhumanity committed for Langton’s masterpiece. What she would have done for it to go up in flames, along with the six-hundred and twenty-seven skulls. She had noted each skull in the ledger and to what purpose? Could evidence ever exist that as blackness was passed through sperm, so was the lack of intellect, morality and ambition? And then London, where she thought she would be Langton’s girl, his maid even. Instead, she was tossed aside as compensation for a favour.  

The content of this novel is a representation of the injustice of inhumanity in the name of science. Due to the dense thematic quality and the intriguing storyline, I found this a compelling read. Collins writes fluidly, and her imagery and manipulation of language bring the story alive. A superbly written novel that touches on more than one element of the human condition and depicts the suffering of the powerless at the hands of the powerful.


Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review
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Beautiful story of love and freedom, but also addiction and pain.

Life is complicated, and Frannie Langton's life is no different. Born a slave in Jamaica, she's forced to take part in her master's experiments on bodies, then brought to London and offered to a different man. But this new master has a wife, who will introduce Frannie to both pleasure and drug - in a passionate and tumultuous relationship. Until the day she dies... Did Frannie murder her mistress?

The book is an indictment of slavery, with the question of whether or not the 'Negroes' are human beings. It's also the downward spiral of a woman restricted by her condition and by the society, who never stood a chance.
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What a debut! A fascinating tale of Frances Langton, a mulatta, born in Jamaica and then taken to England by her 'owner' and left with a family and finally tried in the Old Bailey for the murder of the husband and wife of the house. The writing tells the story in pictures because the descriptions are so well portrayed; the characters, good and bad, are fascinating; Frannie's experiences are many and obviously much of the story draws on actual instances from the 1800s. Frannie is used and abused and deserves our sympathy.
Many thanks to Netgalley/Sara Collins/Penguin Books for a digital copy of this title. All opinions expressed are my own.
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The title character is a half coloured child of the plantations.  Her education and attractive looks make her an oddity in Georgian London.

The early part of the book is quite interesting, but as the tale gets darker and darker it becomes very depressing, no doubt as a result of the author’s skill.  One feels one is trudging though a Laudenam induced fog and becoming as begrimed as Frannie’s gown in the damp, grey streets she roams.

The only likeable character is a housemaid Prue who tries to warn Frannie when her actions are making her future very precarious.  This is not heeded and  events deteriorate to a very dark place.

Not a book I would have chosen had I known the path it would take, but it is very powerful writing
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On trial for murder Frances Langton is called the Mulatta Murderess by the popular press and the whole of London is crying to see her hang.  She has supposedly killed her master and mistress in the home but is that the whole truth?  Born a slave in Jamaica Frannie is taught to read by her master and helps him conduct vile experiments in the name of science.  Brought to England Frannie is placed with My Benham and his beautiful wife, Marguerite.  The Benham house is full of secrets and so is Frances' mind and love is never far from hate for those born into slavery.
This is a terrific book.  It manages to weave together several big themes - slavery, science, the plight of women in the early nineteenth century - and yet still be a passionate and moving tale with a little magic in it.  Frances' confession builds upon Rousseau's ideas alluded to early on and joins with a little Defoe and Richardson.  The horrors of plantation life are vivid and the horrors of Langton's experiments no less so despite not being described in detail.
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Content-wise Sara Collins’s The Confessions of Frannie Langton has just about everything — drama, passion, violence, murder, opiates, illegitimacy, mixed-race relationships (a big no-no in nineteenth century London), lesbianism (ditto) and more. It was a whirling dervish of a journey from Jamaican slave plantations to Newgate Gaol via luxurious London mansions and the whorehouse. 

If I had to pick a single theme from it I couldn’t. It touches on education, on racism, on scientific ethics, on forbidden love, on the oppression of women regardless of their race or class, and on more besides. It’s rich and it’s complex. In summary, the story is that of Frances Langton, mulatto maid to a London couple, on trial for their murder, and the story unwinds through her confession, the story of her life. Frances can’t defend herself because she has no memory of the events that led up to the crime and it’s only by unpicking her life that she comes to understand.

I feel in my head that this is a very good book, but somehow my heart just didn’t buy into it. Perhaps it’s because it’s so complex that it becomes bewildering, or perhaps it’s because I found the central part of it slow. And while the characters were all brilliantly drawn — no, exposed — I didn’t find any of them likeable. Even Frannie herself, a strong woman and a heroine I feel I should be rooting for, was someone I couldn’t quite engage with as much as I wanted to. 

There’s a lot to commend the book. The writing is powerful, though I thought it could have been pared down in certain places, and the scene-setting is lavish, bringing the smell of the burning sugar cane plantation into my nostrils, the sweaty claustrophobia of Newgate prison into my living room. The issues are important. But somehow, for me, the chemistry wasn’t quite there and the whole was less than the sum of its parts.

But don’t be put off. I think it’s a better book than I’m giving it credit for. 

Thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Books for a copy in return for an honest review.
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This was a really sumptuous exploration of the life and love of a former slave living in England in the 1820s. When we meet Frannie, she is in Newgate prison accused of murdering her employers. What follows is a series of flashbacks that follow Frannie from the plantation in Jamaica where she was a house slave for a particularly unsavoury character, through to her arrival in London and her presentation to George Benham as an educated black woman ripe for study. The writing was beautiful and heartfelt and the pacing was really compelling, albeit there were a couple of areas that felt a little repetitive on occasion. Frannie remains something of an enigma throughout, holding herself at arms length from the audience, which I found intriguing. There were times when the plot would jump suddenly, which could be a little jarring, but overall, I thought this was a well constructed and fascinating narrative that would appeal to fans of Sarah Waters.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Frannie has grown up on a Jamaican sugar plantation as a house girl. She is a mulatto slave, and when her master, Mr Langton, is forced to return to England, she accompanied him. Although she is considered feee as soon as she enters England in the 1820s, Mr Langton ‘gives’ her to a colleague and friend, Mr Benham. She becomes Mrs Benham’s abigail (companion), friend and lover. However, we first meet Frannie as she sits in Newgate prison, writing the story of her life for her solicitor, and how she came to murder Mr and Mrs Benham. Something that she can’t at all remember doing. She has a lot going against her: she’s working class, a woman, and most importantly, she’s black. 
This was an interesting and captivating story. I learnt a lot about how black Jamaicans were regarded by Londoners (it’s not good), how laudanum was the ‘mother’s little helper’ of its time (although I think it was pretty much taken by anyone, male or female, who could afford it), and how black people were regarded as little more than animals. 
The whodunnit element was really puzzling for me, I honestly couldn’t figure it out. I couldn’t think of Frannie as being a murderer and killing the woman she loved. 
This is a really good read, and I would highly recommend recommend it. 
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this wonderful book.
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Frannie is growing up in a time when the slave trade was abolished but nothing had changed (although enslaved people’s lives became much worse).  She has a core of steel but no matter where she is, on the sugar plantation Paradise in the West Indies or in Georgian London with the Benham’s, she is someone else’s experiment or used for what she can give.  As long as she is useful there is a place for her. 

She’s independent in spirit – a woman going against mainstream and expectations, not fitting in anywhere.  Marguerite Benham is quirky, walks to the beat of a different drum, a radical thinker.  As mistress and maid the boundaries are fluid.  Even before the laudanum, their time together feels other-worldly and dreamlike … Sara Collins captures the mind of an addict and the effects really well.  She made me believe this was my life too. 

I really enjoyed Sara Collins writing style too, her use of figurative language making this a very visual read for me.  There are snippets of wisdom, I loved this from Frannie:

“But, looking back now, I see that your own life can be a story you tell yourself, that you can be both the person reading and the thing being read.”

I became so immersed in Frannie’s life as she writes her story that I often forgot she was on trial and that there was an ending waiting at the trial in the Old Bailey.  

So many emotions!  I loved experiencing the shadow side of life vicariously through Frannie, at times out of my comfort zone, but understanding motives and actions.  And hoping that I would have the strength to do the same if it had been my life.

An outstanding read.
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This book explores so many themes, that at times it is hard to follow them all and the central story was quite confusing.  At the end it was almost all wrapped up, but it took a long time to get there!

I wanted Frannie’s life to somehow turn around, and it never really did. That this is true to life for oppressed people is not in doubt, but just a warning for those wanting a happy tale...this is not it!

The author wanted to create a complex gothic romance such as Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre but with a Jamaican slave as the heroine. I haven’t read either of these books, but I am now intrigued to do so.

Thank you to #NetGalley and the publisher for my free advance copy in return for an unbiased review.
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As she awaits trial for murder, Frannie Langton writes her memoirs.  In these 'confessions' we learn about her early life as a favoured slave on a white man's plantation, singled out to be educated.  With the chance of a new life in London, Frannie's circumstances seem to improve, but new challenges, and different forms of slavery await her there.

This is a powerful book, full of twists and turns, but is not for the feint-hearted: it features various accounts of mutilation and 'medical' procedures on unwilling victims.  

This novel most reminds me to 'Alias Grace' by Margaret Atwood, although the style of this narrative is much more 'choppy' - not necessarily a negative as it does keep you intrigued right to the end, when you ate finally rewarded with a full picture.
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What a great epic read. As Frances faces trial for the murder of her Master and Mistress, she takes the opportunity to recall her life to this point and how she is facing trial now. 
A mixed race “mulaffa” raised on a slave plantation in Jamaica, she is brought to England as a young woman and “ gifted” to the wealthy George Benham and his wife Marguerite. 

A complete mix of genres. The obvious murder mystery / did she or didn’t she commit murder, alongside welcome and important observations on the impact of slavery, of the work scientists were undertaking during the period to “prove” race superiority to justify their actions, love affairs, inter-racial relationships and class divides between the wealthy and their servants.

So much to digest. So much to discuss! A gem of a read
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The author makes the silencing of other voices, in particular those of black people and of women, a central theme of the book. It’s why Frannie feels compelled to set down her story in her own words, unmediated by others. Frannie’s account is interspersed with the testimony of witnesses at her trial including the Benham’s housekeeper, Mrs. Linux, other household servants and visitors to the house.

Frannie and her new mistress, Madame Benham, are initially drawn to each other by a shared love of books and reading and there are many references to the power of books to inform, excite, provide comfort, open up new worlds and possibilities. I like to imagine the author’s inclusion of the sentence, ‘And what do two women do in a room of their own’ is an allusion to Virginia Woolf’s famous essay.

The two women’s relationship soon becomes much more intimate and therefore more challenging to the social mores of the time. Staying with the literary theme, the author utilizes books as a metaphor for Frannie’s feelings towards her mistress. ‘What I wanted was to learn her inch by inch. To read her like a book that wouldn’t end.’ When everything changes for Frannie it becomes a wholly darker story evoking memories of her early life on the plantation (ironically named Paradise) and the terrible things that went on there.

Alongside the story of Frannie and the nature of her involvement (or otherwise) in the deaths of the Benhams, the book touches on topics such as identity, racial prejudice, social and gender inequality, the nature versus nurture debate and the abolitionist and emancipation movements. It’s a lot to cover in one book and could for some readers perhaps be a distraction from the story of the murders which only returns to centre stage in the final chapters of the novel.

Reading The Confessions of Frannie Langton brought to mind other (fiction and non-fiction) books I’ve read recently such as Blood & Sugar, Sugar in the Blood and The Conviction of Cora Burns, all of which touch on similar issues although in slightly different ways.

The Confessions of Frannie Langton is an engrossing story of passion and betrayal that is part social history, part historical mystery.
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What drew me to this book was the message from the author, her reasons behind her need to write this story and I loved that she saw that niche that no-one else had yet filled and fill it she did.
The story begins in 1826 with Frannie Langton writing down her version of events leading up to her being charged with the murder of her master and mistress, scientist George Benham and his wife Marguerite, while awaiting her trial. Frannie had been born and raised in Jamaica, a slave girl working on a sugar plantation. The first section of the story given to describe in unforgettable detail how her life was there. The cruel, degrading and sickening ways which she had to accept as her life. The plantation owner undertakes an experiment to see if negroes can be educated and with Frannie firmly in his sights embarks on terrifying experiments with her. When Mr. Langton has to flee Jamaica he takes Frannie with him to London and ‘gifts’ her to George Benham to do with has he pleases.
George Benham sees himself as a bit of a modern thinking man or likes to be seen that way on the outside but nothing was further than the truth. Frannie is singled out to be the mistress of the house’s maid where an irresistible attraction grows between the two women, finally leading to a very intimate relationship. The marriage between George and Marguerite one that was never going to work but divorcing would have been too greater scandal.
Marguerite is delicate in many ways, often being visited by the doctor, having bad blood sucked from her by leeches and taking laudanum, a very addictive and dangerous drug. The love story between them is at times quite beautiful, giving Frannie a glimpse of what it is like to be genuinely loved and catered to. This is extremely dangerous ground for them both with the story going into new depths.
Frannie writes her memoirs in prison as the trial takes place. This was a very captivating story, very raw with nerve endings exposed as far as emotions go. Beautifully written and as far as what the author was after spot on.
I wish to thank NetGalley and the publisher for an e-copy of this book which I have honestly reviewed.
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Thanks to Penguin Books and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

I can't help but feel a little sorry for a debut author when their book is promoted as being similar to x or y. This particular book has been compared to both Alias Grace and Fingersmith. I can totally understand why publishers do this but, I think I'd find being compared to Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters more than a little intimidating personally. It's a lot for a debut novel to live up to and sets a certain expectation for the reader.

The novel follows the titular Frannie Langton, a mixed race slave born and raised in Jamaica. The initial chapters take place on a Jamaican plantation before the action moves to Victorian era London. At the beginning of the book we learn that Frannie has been accused of murdering her employers, including the Mistress of the house, her rumoured lover. Condemned to hang, she recounts her tale to us, the reader, although she is not always the most reliable narrator.

I found this novel quite difficult to follow at first, particularly at the beginning in relation to the experiments Frannie is supposed to have taken part in with Mr Langton. I'm guessing this was a deliberate choice on the part of the author but I couldn't help getting frustrated as it felt like I had missed something. 

My frustration wasn't really helped by the slump of pace in the middle of the novel where I started to lose interest. Things picked up again towards the end but it never really recovered for me after the loss of momentum in the middle. The love affair was quite interesting because of the LGBTQ representation but aside from that aspect I didn't find the plot itself particularly compelling.

There really is nothing wrong with this novel, it just didn't grip me and I couldn't help comparing it to similar novels that have the same setting and explore similar themes. I don't feel too guilty about doing this as this is how the book is being promoted. It's well-written and entertaining enough but, I just didn't feel that there was anything new enough here to excite me or to elevate it above other similarly themed novels.
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Right from the start of this novel, you know you are in for something quite different. This is Frannie Langton’s autobiography, written while awaiting trial in Newgate Prison, and it takes us from the heat addled sugar plantation, horribly named Paradise, to the cold wet streets of 1826 London.

Frannie Langton our protagonist, tells us that she wants to be the star of her own gothic romance; to be the Jamaican Jane Eyre or Catherine Earnshaw. A mulatto, she is raised in the Paradise plantation where her master, Langton, a bit of a scientific crackpot , makes her help him in his horrible eugenics experiments.  Langton is a bit of a cross between Mengele and Dr Frankenstein and Frannie skates over these experiments as quickly as she can. Frannie is able to educate herself and finds some kind of peace in her reading.

After a disastrous fire destroys the plantation, Frannie is taken to London by Langton and given as a gift to George Benham, a scientist engaged in similarly dubious experiments. The fascination Bentham has with Frannie is more to do with finding out what experiments his rival has conducted than finding Frannie herself useful. Though slavery no longer exists in England, Frannie is penniless and still not free.

George Benham is married to the lovely and captivating Marguerite, a society beauty who married for money only to discover there was precious little of it to spare. Marguerite is disappointed, capricious and addicted to opium.

Sara Collins writes beautifully. She can convey horror in such a quiet understated way that it almost, but not quite, passes you by, mixed with slow sometimes sensual descriptions. These juxtapositions always lead the reader back to the sheer awfulness of Frannie’s position and to those who seek to exploit her.

Wherever Frannie goes she is viewed, not as a person but as a thing, a possession to be talked about, used, abused and ultimately betrayed by the one person she loved. This is Frannie’s story, told as she is on trial for the murders of George and Marguerite Bentham. She claims she can’t remember anything about that fateful night, but she knows for sure she would never have murdered her Mistress.

Frannie’s own account is layered with alternative sources of information. The reality of what has happened becomes the key question, and it applies to every single event of the novel because everyone has a different perspective. The reader is left to work it out.

Frannie herself is a fascinating character; there is an understandable sadness to her but she is quick witted, sharp and inquisitive as well as imbued with a strong survival instinct. She has done some terrible things, but she is always looking for freedom and love, in a country where those very rights are routinely denied because of both her colour and her gender.

This is a strong debut from an original writer. I thought it slightly lost pace in the middle, but that didn’t detract from an outstanding story and a gripping murder mystery with great characterisation.

Verdict: A strong and compelling debut from an original new voice
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In the author’s note that opens The Confessions of Frannie Langton, Sara Collins remembers reading books like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre on the small Caribbean island where she grew up and asking the questions: “Why couldn’t a Jamaican former slave be the star of her own gothic romance? Why couldn’t she be complicated, ambiguous, complex? Why had no one like that ever had a love story like those?’ Frannie Langton is Collins’ attempt to redress the balance and give that Jamaican former slave her very own story in which to star.

The novel opens in 1826 with Frannie – or the ‘Mulatta Murderess’, as she has become known – awaiting trial at London’s Old Bailey for the murders of her employers, George and Marguerite Benham. Frannie, who had been a maid in the Benham household, had been found lying in bed, covered in blood, beside Marguerite’s dead body. She has no idea how she came to be there and is sure she couldn’t possibly have killed her beloved mistress, yet all the evidence suggests that she is guilty. While she waits for her fate to be decided, Frannie looks back on her life and recalls the sequence of events that have led her to this point.

Frannie remembers her childhood, growing up on the Langtons’ sugar plantation in Jamaica (ironically called ‘Paradise’) and describes the circumstances that meant she received an education that would usually be denied to a slave. Later, when Mr Langton returns to England, he takes Frannie with him and she looks forward to new experiences and new opportunities. On their arrival in London, however, she is handed over to the Benhams to become a servant in their home and finds that life is not much better here than it was on the plantation. The one bright spot in her life is her relationship with ‘Madame’ (Mrs Benham), but as we already know from the opening chapter of the book, that relationship will end in tragedy.

The Confessions of Frannie Langton is Sara Collins’ first novel and I’m sure it’s going to be a big success for her. It has been given a beautiful front cover, which stands out even amongst the many other beautiful covers that are around at the moment and the book has already been getting lots of very positive reviews since its publication last week. I didn’t love it as much as most other people seem to have done, but that’s probably because it wasn’t really what I’d expected. I thought the crime element would have been a more important part of the story, but the murder and the trial are confined mainly to the final few chapters, and I’m not sure I would agree with the description of the book as a gothic novel either, although I suppose it would depend on what you consider gothic to mean.

I did find Frannie an interesting and engaging heroine with a strong narrative voice and although there were some parts of her story that I felt I’d read many times before (bearing in mind that I do read a lot of historical novels set in the 19th century), Frannie’s background and unusual circumstances mean that we are seeing things from a slightly different angle. Having one white parent and one black, Frannie never really fits in with the other slaves on the plantation – especially when she is given an education and an enviable position as house slave – but she knows she will never be accepted by most white people either. As you can imagine, she experiences a lot of cruelty and prejudice in her life and this is quite a sad story at times – and also quite disturbing, particularly the descriptions of the ‘scientific experiments’ and research carried out by Frannie’s two masters, Langton and Benham. 

Sara Collins writes beautifully and I was struck by sentences like “A man writes to separate himself from the common history. A woman writes to try to join it…” and “A good scientist merely searches for the answer to the question posed, but the one whose name history will record reaches for the questions no one has even thought to ask”. And of course, as a fellow book lover, I appreciated Frannie’s love of literature and her determination to read all the books she could get her hands on. But was Frannie really responsible for the deaths of George and Marguerite Benham? You will need to read her confessions to find out…
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A real gothic story told through the eyes of Frannie Langton.
Born a slave and brutalised throughout her life by both people who purportedly lived her and terrorised her
At times difficult to read it is also a social commentary on the life and times of Afro carrabians in that time frame and the injustices that  they had to deal with even when the abolition of slavery was supposed to have taken place.
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In a review on another book that I posted as recently yesterday on my blog I spent time singing my new found love of historical novels and heaping praise on a technique I adore. This technique is when we begin reading a novel already knowing the events and circumstances of the ending. I believe I used words such as ‘journey’ and ‘anticipation’.

There is a book that I have read recently which is similar in tone to both the aforementioned anonymous book and ‘Confessions’ and what really made me love that book was the love story. It was a forbidden love (along with a bit of enemies to lovers) and clearly I can now add that to my list of romance tropes I adore.

There is a third book. One that I read last year but which has been out for years. It involves a woman who has been accused of murder and who tells her story to a third party and it is that story which we are reading, . The story builds up to the murder but the main focus is on all the horrible events of her life that may explain why she did it (if she did it).

I mention all these books because I adored all these books. The first two are recent releases so I don’t want to name them because it would be unfair to ‘Confessions’ but as the third is well known I’ll just let you know that it’s Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood.

Why am I mentioning these books though? 

Let’s go through the list:-

Newfound love of historical novels – The Confessions of Frannie Langton is one of these. We move from Jamaica and the plantations to Victorian London and I’d say that’s pretty darn historic.
We begin knowing the ending – ‘Confessions’ starts with Frannie in prison awaiting her trial for murder. She’s been accused of stabbing her master and his wife (Frannie’s lover) to death. The whole story builds up to that moment and the outcome of Frannie’s trial.
There is a forbidden love story – Frannie falls in love with her master’s wife. There’s the power angle, the race angle and the lesbian angle. You don’t get more forbidden than that in a Victorian based novel.
There is a woman accused of murder who is telling a third party her story to try and get out of her sentencing – very strong Alias Grace vibes here. Even down to the focus being less on the murder and more about how awful the woman’s life has been up to the point of the murder. I definitely won’t be the only person who throws in Alias Grace as a comparison.
Ultimately the above means that The Confessions of Frannie Langton should have been everything I wanted in a novel. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work like that. I should have adored this story, I wanted to adore this story but in the end it just felt flat to me.

It was like flat champagne. The taste was there but the bubbles weren’t.

The writer is a good writer and she can weave a great tale. There’s skill in her story plotting which keeps you guessing as to what truly happened and she crafts characters that feel painfully real.

The scenes in Jamaica at the beginning are superb. The truly nasty events of plantations and slavery really come across in vivid detail and the characters that we meet at the beginning are even more fleshed out and alive. There is permanent tension and the coach house and its horrors loom ominously over Frannie.

Then the story moves to England and what could have been unique was lost.

Frannie becomes oddly detached from her life experiences. In some way you could say this is due to trauma and deliberate emotional attachment but I didn’t feel it was supposed to be that way.

She is angry at the injustices she has experienced and those who have caused them but I never really felt it. It’s almost as though we’re being shown her anger; ‘I am angry’ is what we get rather than a palpable feeling of rage and hate which would be completely understandable.

What overtakes the story of Frannie as a person is the love story between Frannie and her bored, spoiled mistress who frankly is awful. I appreciate that Marguerite (Meg) is also an oppressed woman in Victorian society but as a white woman of wealth she has it so much better than Frannie.

Meg is a woman who manages to charm the society she is part of by being deliberately avant garde and controversial. She is progressive for her time in that she is more liberal when it comes to relationships, gender and race but ultimately is that ‘progressive’ nature due to her genuinely realising that people should be equal or because she knows it irritates her husband and fascinates the masses?

Honestly? I think it’s the last one. She’s privileged and drug addled and sees her servants as things not people. This is why I was so frustrated that Frannie, with her intellect and anger and strong sense of self, becomes so enamored with Meg.

Why Frannie? Why?! This wasn’t a love story I could get behind because it didn’t feel like love. Frannie describes the horrors of her life to us (via her lawyer) and they are horrors. Yet somehow she turns her spine into steel and picks herself time and time again only to have that all fall away over a preoccupation with a love affair.

Frannie goes from being an interesting character to a rather bland one all in the name of ‘love.’

Sadly, the parts I disliked over-ruled some of the parts I liked. With some books if there are parts that hit me in the chest and I think ‘wowsers’ I can let that ‘over-ruling’ slide but I think the balance wasn’t strong enough here for that to happen.

Overall this is a well crafted book and I would say that it’s a good book from a technique point of view but I’m left a little disappointed by the lack of emotion it elicited from me.
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In London, in 1826, Frances Langton stands in the Old Bailey, accused of murdering her employers in a dramatic and heinous crime. However, as Frannie’s sad and sorry life story starts to emege we learn so much about this complicated woman who started life on a Jamaican plantation where she once lived as a house slave. 

Never quite sure of her parentage, Frances comes to London with her slave owner, Mr. Langton, where she is given into the employment of George and Marguerite Benham. Once she is settled in the household Frannie's wit and intelligence attracts the attention of the unconventional Marguerite whose moral standards are, it must be said, rather unusual for the time. However, as it turns out, Frannie’s time with the Benham’s in their household, means that she exchanges one kind of servitude for another, with, as it turns out, disastrous consequences. 

The Confessions of Frannie Langton is a really fascinating historical narrative which is made all the more interesting for shining a spotlight on a terribly shameful past, and which then,very cleverly, links the way in which Frances, a woman who was conflicted by her gender, race and class, was forever let down by her lowly station in life. 

The Confessions of Frannie Langton is a very clever debut, beautifully written with a distinctly authentic feel,  it is one of those fascinating, but cautionary, stories which stays with you long after the last page is finished.
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