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Books Editorial

frannielangton.jpg The Confessions of Frannie Langton

Sara Collins, Viking

Sara Collins has said of her debut novel that she wanted to put a Jamaican woman in Jane Austen territory: “I wanted to see what would happen to someone like Frannie making her presence felt in these sophisticated Georgian drawing rooms”. The tale begins in 1826, with the mixed-race Frannie Langton on trial for double murder at the Old Bailey. From her cell she recounts her early life as a slave on a Jamaican plantation, and how she was bundled off to London and installed as a general dogsbody in a well to-do household. She swaps one form of servitude for another, but also manages to find love in the most unlikely of circumstances. Collins has fashioned Frannie’s story into an opium dunked page-turner, rich with similes, which is in turn gothic and tender but imbued with a righteous fury. And she uses the murder/mystery hook to ask questions about the importance of having agency and the price one must pay in order to get it.