2021 Longlist

The Confessions of Frannie Langton



‘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? A haunting tale about one woman’s fight to tell her story, The Confessions of Frannie Langton leads you through laudanum-laced dressing rooms and dark-as-night alleys, into the heart of Georgian London.

About the Author

Sara Collins studied law at the London School of Economics and worked as a lawyer for seventeen years. In 2014 she embarked upon the Creative Writing Masters at Cambridge University, where she won the 2015 Michael Holroyd Prize of Re-creative Writing and was shortlisted for the 2016 Lucy Cavendish Prize for a book inspired by her love of gothic fiction. This turned into her first novel, The Confessions of Frannie Langton.

Librarian’s Comments

A superbly creative mystery-murder-romance which though rooted in the realities and nuances of two post slave-trade societies unravels a fresh tale of intriguing confessions from Frannie Langton.

“For God’s sake, give me something I can save your neck with” asks Frannie’s lawyer and what he and readers get is The Confessions of Frannie Langton, the accused well-read, insanely-in-love “mulatta murderess.”

Frannie’s confessions begin with her birth on Paradise a sugar plantation in Jamaica where a “man keeps his concubines and his bastards in plain sight” and ends in London where there are a hundred prostitutes for every wife” and in the time when an evening’s intellectual and social highlight is to attend soirees where the debate is likely to be about the pros and cons of the anti-slavery movement.

Sara Collins a first time novelist, has given us a novel look on mistress of the house and secret lover(s) relationships; of evil posing as science; of stark racism and in the crafting proves herself a “fine hewer of words.” Jamaica Library Service, Jamaica

In recounting the gripping, laudanum-tinged details of captivating antiheroine Frances Langton’s odyssey from Jamaican slave to exotic bauble of the Georgian demimonde to a dank cell in Newgate prison as the infamous “mulatta murderess,” debut novelist Collins taps directly into the wellsprings of the gothic, revealing as by lighting those grim realities of race, gender and class left lurking in the shadowy subtext of Shelley and the Brontes. Collins succeeds in both entertaining and deeply unsettling the reader, luring us into scenes of authentic ghastliness whose authenticity resounds across two centuries to our own time of reckoning. The Seattle Public Library, USA



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Penguin Books


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