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The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins Book Review


The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins Book Review 

The confessions of Franny Langton by Sara Collins. This is a book that came out last year. I was sent an advanced copy of it but did not read it until this week. So here I am to talk about it. 

So this is a historical fiction book that has like a little bit of a mystery element to it. I've seen some people / marketing materials talk about this as a historical thriller but I wouldn't categorize this in the thriller genre at all. 

There is a mystery happening here, or there's-- a part of this is a mystery but that isn't really what it is. So let me give you an actual synopsis so you can kind of know what it is. 

So you are following this character named Frannie Langton. She is a Jamaican woman. This takes place in the early 1800s. 

She was a slave in Jamaica and her owner ends up eventually taking her over to England where slavery isn't a thing anymore but obviously black people still aren't treated very well. But she ends up becoming like a maid to someone in England.

And the story starts off with Frannie Langton being accused of murdering her boss and his wife. And she is basically like writing her confessions of her life to do her best to explain what exactly happened in this murder because she herself isn't really sure. 

So this is a really interesting book and the reason why I wanted to review it is because I had like a very interesting experience reading this. This is definitely a very like gothic-y type of novel. 

I've seen people compare this to Sarah Waters, and I definitely think it has similar vibes to it in the sense that it's kind of like a slow-moving historical fiction book. And I don't mean slow moving in a derogatory way. 

But kind of that pacing where you start things off really slowly and then just sort of like as the book goes on like the pressure slowly builds over time to the, like, what I think is like the climax of the story and where things get really intense really fast. 

I actually listen to this on audiobook and I definitely recommend that if you are someone who listens to audiobooks. And this was available on Hoopla. So if you have access to hoopla I definitely recommend that. 

But the way that this book is structured is in two basically like parts or ideas. One of them is following this confession that Frannie Langton is writing and so it's told in like the first person. 

And the audiobook has it so there is a Jamaican woman who is reading that part of the story. And then the other part of the story are like transcripts from the trial or just documents from the trial. 

And those parts are told from male audiobook narrators perspective. So I thought that provided something kind of interesting and different in this audio book experience. But the fact that it's told from that first-person perspective, I feel like lent it very well to being an audiobook. 

The way that Sara Collins writes is really, really beautiful and definitely something that like grabbed my attention in the beginning. Like I said this is kind of a slow moving story. 

And so when I-- I tried to read this book before but I could tell like the writing style just wasn't really clicking with my brain. But then listening to it, I think, really helped me get into the groove of the story and the groove of the writing and stuff like that. 

But I think that if you're someone who reads a lot of like gothic fiction or reads a lot of like classics and things like that, you'll not really have a problem like with that like I did. 

One of the things that's mentioned really early on in the book that Frannie Langton is writing is she says like she doesn't want to write a slave narrative but she kind of ends up doing that anyways. 

But it's a very different sort of narrative than like the quote/unquote typical slave narrative that a lot of people or at least that I am familiar with. And I think that's partially because like none of this takes place in the United States. 

And so I think a lot of times when people think of slave narratives, they think of either stories that take place in Africa and/or the United States and this takes place in Jamaica and England. 

And it's not really a typical slave narrative but it does have a lot of similar ideas that are woven into it just by the fact that it's taking place in this time period and you're following a black woman. 

But Frannie Langton lives a very, I don't want to say unusual life but she leads a life that has a lot of layers and a lot of sort of turn and peaks and valleys to it. I think that if you read the book like Washington Black, that one is sort of a more lighthearted, I suppose you could say, although there are a lot of parts in that book that aren't really light-hearted. 

But I feel like that book explores kind of some similar things just because there are parts of this book that talk about the science and experiments that a lot of people did in regards to black people in a really like terrible way. 

I don't want to go into that too much because I feel like that's sort of woven into a lot of this plot. But Frannie Linton is owned by and becomes like the maid of two scientists. 

And they are scientists who have a lot of interest in eugenics basically and like what race does or doesn't have to do with like a person's skill level or intelligence, etc, etc. And Frannie Langton's life is basically like intertwined with all of that. Like I said, earlier Sara Collins's writing is really beautiful 

I think that she really like paints a picture. There are a lot of scenes in here that are really descriptive but that also means there are a lot of scenes in here that are really graphic, both in a violent standpoint and also in a sexual standpoint. So just FYI if that's a thing that bothers you. 

And I think for me there were like two things that were kind of propelling me through this book. Part of it was like finally figuring out what exactly happened on this fateful night and how this all came to be. 

But also like Frannie Langton herself gets into really precarious and really unexpected situations, I will just say, and I was just like I have to know what's gonna happen to her. 

I feel like to me like the mystery felt almost secondary to just like her general life story and just knowing-- wanting to know what exactly was going on with this character in general. 

So yeah, I feel like this book was pitched pretty heavily on the mystery aspect of it but I feel like the mystery is really secondary. And so if you're going into this wanting a really strong mystery, I don't necessarily know if you're gonna like love it. 

Although if you love like historical mysteries and like, again, that sort of gothic fiction feeling to it like Sarah Waters, then I think you'll really enjoy it. But if you're going into this wanting a really strong mystery I think you'll be a little bit disappointed. 

This I feel like is kind of akin to long bright river where the mystery aspect of it is really secondary. And so I can see a lot of people being disappointed in both of these books because of that. 

But I think that the writing and the character development and the stuff that you would consider more quote-unquote literary are really what hold these books up. So yeah, I think I gave-- I would give this like a three and a half almost, four stars. 

I definitely, definitely again recommend the audiobook if you are an audiobook person, and especially if you were maybe having a little bit of a harder time getting into this book. 

I have seen like people say that they like DNF'd this book and they couldn't really get into it and I completely understand why. But I feel like the audiobook really did a good job of grabbing me and so definitely check that out if you want to give this book a read. 

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