The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins is without a doubt one of the most powerfully stunning debuts of 2019. I had heard Frannie Langton's name before I even knew about the book - a slave. Whore. Seductress. Murderer. A Jane Eyre. An unforgettable heroine.
And so begins an unforgettably hard-hitting yet dazzlingly original tale of murder, love, race and oppression that penetrates the skin and sears the soul. A thrilling tale of confessions, challenges and convictions faced from a Jamaican sugar plantation to the fetid streets of Georgian London. And here the crowds gather at the gates of the Old Bailey in April 1826 to watch as Frannie Langton is put on trial for the brutal murders of her masters, Mr and Mrs Benham. The testimonies against Frannie are damning but Frannie claims she cannot recall what happened that fateful evening. But Frannie Langton has a different story to tell, and the truth may just unmask the perpetrators of crime far beyond murder and indict the whole of English society itself. But through the fevered confessions, one burning question haunts Frannie Langton: could she have murdered the only person she ever loved?
The premise of this historical thriller was extremely engrossing and kept me up into the late hours of the night devouring it. Sara Collins' writing is seductively beautiful and the crisp, fresh voice given to Frannie is so beyond the typical portrays of the horrors of slavery. So clearly well researched, as not only does Collins' offer a groundbreaking narrative to Frannie's background but she also includes psychological insights, extracts from scientific papers and newspaper clippings of the trial to accompany the story.
Altogether, Frannie Langton was a character that played with my thoughts. Fiery, tough yet extremely complex, I might be the first to admit to being a little frightened of her. I had great sympathy for Frannie and her story evoked genuine feelings of anger, sadness and terror, yet Collins' has written a timely, unforgettable heroine who will bitterly seek those who try to silence her. Frannie is a born survivor and I don't think there's anything, or anyone, who could interfere with her survival.
The Confessions of Frannie Langton is truly an outstanding debut. I am still in awe that this is Collins' first novel and I think we're in for a treat for what she writes next. Collins has taken the traditional gothic novel to new, extraordinary heights, and in turn has written an intelligent, unsentimental analysis of the slave narrative.
A massive thank you to LoveReading and Viking for sharing Frannie Langton's unforgettable story with me. It's been a pleasure to be part of this blog tour, so be sure to follow it!