The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
Frannie Langton was born a slave on a plantation in Jamaica. She thought her mistress was doing her a favor when she taught her to read, but this skill brings her to her master’s attention. His health is failing and he can hardly use his shaking hands so Frannie must be his hands and help with his research and physically write his “masterwork.” His life’s work are studies he feels proves the differences between the races and their capacity for intelligence. It doesn’t escape Frannie that her assistance is making it possible to write this awful and false manuscript but she has no choice in the matter. Just as Frannie has no choice when he brings her to London and leaves her with the household of a scientist he admires in hopes that gentleman will lend credibility to his manuscript. While no longer a slave she is not truly free. She is a housemaid and then becomes the personal maid to the lady of the house. The relationship between maid and lady is complex and becomes the subject of much speculation as the book begins with Frannie’s trial as she sits accused of murdering the lady and man of the house.
As many books written today the timeline goes between now and the past which was really interesting because the reader isn’t introduced to the murdered couple until at least halfway through the narrative. Learning about Frannie’s life and how education served her ill was eye-opening in a day and age when education is held in such high regard. The story makes you think about how difficult it would be to hold menial positions when you know so much about the world and life from between the covers of a book yet you are stuck cleaning fire grates and serving meals. The book does keep the suspense going as you wonder if Frannie was falsely accused due to her color or if she really committed murder. My only difficulty in the book was believing Frannie’s infatuation with another character; it didn’t seem like love, it just seemed like Frannie was being used. Yet how often do intelligent people fall for the wrong person? A good choice on audio for the accents and to become immersed in the story.