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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 (2 ratings)

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Publisher's 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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Profile Image for Cassie Wallis
  • Cassie Wallis
  • 04-01-19

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.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • juniper
  • 04-24-19

Too much hype ...

I was expecting so much from this book. I've persevered but it's just not for me. The language is beautiful but I find the story and its development extremely full and long-winded..The audio book is not helped by the author's narration (never a good idea in my experience!) which is so monotonous and droning, it almost put me to sleep several times. Sadly I'm having to return this.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Claribelle
  • 10-07-19

Long-winded story, terrible narration

I spent a lot of this story feeling like I’d heard it before. Then when the story got more interesting I was so irritated by the author / narrator’s voice I couldn’t stand it any more. Please use proper readers to do these stories - readers who can vary the tone and pace a bit!

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  • Ms. V. J. Herrett
  • 09-13-19

Not my normal choice

I came across this book in a box subscription. Other wise I would not have picked it up myself. However I loved the story and how well written it was. Would highly recommended it.

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  • Lesley Hancock
  • 08-26-19

Author as reader?

An interesting and enjoyable novel but I agree with some other reviewers about the decision to use the author as the reader. She has a lovely voice but I feel a more experienced a tor would have given more life to key characters and events.

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  • Natalie Chong
  • 08-05-19

The book is like one endless simile*

*yes that’s meant to be a pun

I just couldn’t. The ridiculous number of similes drew me out every time. A shot per sickle would be a good drinking game, you’d get pretty drunk pretty quickly. I counted 4 in 2 mins at one point. I hated that, and in the end it completely distracted from the story. I didn’t care about Frannie, or anyone else for that matter, and it didn’t bring the period to life for me like I expect this style of book to do. Such a shame because the story sounded great on paper. I only wish Sarah Waters had thought of it first

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • RubyShoes
  • 06-28-19

But!

This is such a good book! Well written with beautiful use of language.

A testament to this = it's the first time I've fought my way through the narration instead of giving up!

I'll quality these comments by admitting I am super picky when it comes to narration so mileage may vary but for me I'm sorry to say the author's narration, apart from being flat, lacking any emotion, was blighted by awful accents.

I couldn't work out what was going on with the ever changing accents.. seemed to flip flop between Irish with a touch of American or maybe English with a touch of Irish I never worked it out but it was extremely irritating. Adjoa Andoh would have been perfect!

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  • Monica Balt
  • 06-04-19

A Stunning Debut!

The Confessions of Frannie Langton fills a conspicuous gap: a historical novel, set in Victorian England and Jamaica, with a woman who is black and a slave as its protagonist. Inspired by Frankenstein, with echoes of Jane Eyre and Rebecca, it is gothic to the core. Frannie is ‘created’, cultivated and above all, owned. Yet her voice—most often sparking with fury, at times brimming with love and remorse—cannot be silenced. Sara Collins’s sharp, sure and relentless prose does Frannie justice as it sweeps you along in its wake. The author’s narration of the audiobook is compelling. A stunning debut!

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  • susan
  • 05-31-19

Brilliant Story

Loved the narrator's voice so smooth and drew you in. Great story not the usual poor girl saved at the end but a story that was told through the character
Really lovely descriptive analogies you can almost see the scenes through these.

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  • J Pitter
  • 05-19-19

Big....that is all,

It's strange to view a book like this as a "page turner" as it had been described (I have the book also). If what that they mean is it has you gripped and is fast paced then I am fine with that description.

It is equal parts, entertaining, thought provoking, first rate creative writing and for some I imagine quite challenging. A raw and often hard hitting reminder of the brutality and inequalities of yester-year but it is power story telling, beautifully written and expertly researched, as a stand alone piece of drama. The issues of race, slavery, sexism and social injustice (not necessarily in that order) form a natural back drop without getting in the way of the central storyn Frannie's trial for murder and did she do "it".

The audio book benefits from being narrated by the author giving a real depth of understanding to the characters... Thank you Ms Collins.