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The confessions of Frannie Langton
2019
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Summary

"A startling, compelling historical debut novel. . . should be on top of your vacation reading pile." -The Washington Post

"A stunning debut. . . . I love this book." -Guardian

"Reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace . . . [a] devious, richly detailed debut." -O: The Oprah Magazine

A servant and former slave is accused of murdering her employer and his wife in this astonishing historical thriller that moves from a Jamaican sugar plantation to the fetid streets of Georgian London--a remarkable literary debut with echoes of Alias Grace, The Underground Railroad, and The Paying Guests.



All of London is abuzz with the scandalous case of Frannie Langton, accused of the brutal double murder of her employers, renowned scientist George Benham and his eccentric French wife, Marguerite. Crowds pack the courtroom, eagerly following every twist, while the newspapers print lurid theories about the killings and the mysterious woman being tried at the Old Bailey.

The testimonies against Frannie are damning. She is a seductress, a witch, a master manipulator, a whore.

But Frannie claims she cannot recall what happened that fateful evening, even if remembering could save her life. She doesn't know how she came to be covered in the victims' blood. But she does have a tale to tell: a story of her childhood on a Jamaican plantation, her apprenticeship under a debauched scientist who stretched all bounds of ethics, and the events that brought her into the Benhams' London home--and into a passionate and forbidden relationship.

Though her testimony may seal her conviction, the truth will unmask the perpetrators of crimes far beyond murder and indict the whole of English society itself.

The Confessions of Frannie Langton is a breathtaking debut: a murder mystery that travels across the Atlantic and through the darkest channels of history. A brilliant, searing depiction of race, class, and oppression that penetrates the skin and sears the soul, it is the story of a woman of her own making in a world that would see her unmade.

Trade Reviews
Booklist Review
In her historical first novel, Collins, a lawyer and prize-winning writer of Jamaican descent, introduces Frances Langton, whose life traces a trajectory from mulatta slave in the West Indies to maid for a member of Georgian high society to the Old Bailey via incest, horror, and murder. Collins' prose, awash in a sea of similes that threatens to drown the reader, is nevertheless effective in creating a vivid voice for Frannie's first-person narration while providing a convincing sense of place in her depiction of a Jamaican sugar plantation and its inhabitants. There are many monsters here and no heroes, with men made loose by balls and bragging, with no earthly notion how tight it can get inside a woman's skin. Collins throws various genres into a literary blender to produce a heady, gothic, mad-scientist, bildungsroman, lesbian, feminist portrait of a marriage; slave narrative; and upstairs-downstairs murder-mystery and courtroom-drama smoothie. Fans of any of these elements will be drawn to this absorbing novel of a woman boxed in by geography, chronology, gender, and the color of her skin.--Bethany Latham Copyright 2019 Booklist
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