The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins (384 pages)
From Child Slave and Servant to Mistress and Murderess
The Confessions of Frannie Langton begins in 1826 at The Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court in London, England, where the trial of Frannie Langton plays out. Frannie, a Black slave girl, has been accused of murdering her Master, Mr. Benham, and her Mistress, Mrs. Benham. She doesn’t recall what happened on the fateful night of the murder – or how she came to be covered in her Master’s and Mistress’s blood. As the crowds gather and jeer, the testimonies made against her are highly damaging. She’s been labelled a “whore” and stands in front of a predominately-white courtroom that has already decided she’s guilty. Yet, it is through her own account of events that the truth begins to unfold, and we become aware that the situation is more complicated than it first seems.
Born into slavery, Frannie’s life is cruel and tragic. As she is gifted by her former Master to Mr. and Mrs. Benham, she is torn from her homeland and transported by boat to London, England, before being handed over to them. Frannie develops a close bond with Mrs. Benham, whose addiction to opium sees her behaviour become more and more erratic. Despite this, Frannie develops a deep love for her, and an intimate relationship develops between the pair. Throughout the trial, an unanswered question remains for Frannie: Could she have murdered the only person that she ever loved?
Well-Written Historical Tale
Born into a world of slavery and a life destined to be destroyed. The Confessions of Frannie Langton is a well-written historical tale that is captivating, heart-wrenching, and lays bare the abuse of children born into slavery. More shockingly, it brings into the open the social experimentation that took place on vulnerable children and young adults. Despite Frannie being forced to engage in social experiments and sexual relationships, we see a glimpse of her youth and naivety, both of which leave her unguarded and unprotected. Her relationship with Mrs. Benham is an intriguing one as, despite their very different circumstances, there are so many parallels. “Where I come from, there’s more than one way a man gives you his name. He marries you, or he buys you,” says Frannie. Though one is married and one is a slave, she infers their similar struggles and how they may have been destined to unite in the hope of overcoming their battles and demons.
The Bottom Line: 4/5 Brookie Stars
The Confessions of Frannie Langton is a profound and moving novel that addresses more than just the subject of slavery. It shines a light on the role of women and marriage in that era, who were seen as playthings for their husbands and withheld from being themselves. Frannie’s detailed narration led to a slow start, yet, as her character and the story developed, it gripped me. I struggled to extract myself from its pages, missing more than a few hours of sleep while trying to read through the tragic situation that she faced. It was indeed a page-turner for me.
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With 30 years of general management experience in the global insurance industry and having lived in 4 countries, Jacqui now spends her time between London and New York where she continues to pursue her passion for writing, food, books and travel.
A Reiki practitioner, yogi and huge animal advocate, her home isn’t complete without a furbaby or three. In addition to being a BooknBrunch contributor, she writes for industry publications.
Favourite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Favourite brunch dish: avocado toast with tomato and chilli