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?
This is set in 1820’s London and Frannie Langton is on trial accused of murder. Poor Frannie cannot remember anything about awful night the murders were committed but she doesn’t believe that she would have killed her mistress, as she loved her so much…..of course she did….didn’t she?
Frannie began as a slave on a sugar plantation in Jamaica and she has grown into a complex, interesting character with traits that are, some good and some not so good. (She reminds me a little of Cora Burns from The Conviction of Cora Burns).
While languishing in Newgate prison, awaiting her trial, she passes the days writing down her life story, and we hear of the cruelty she has experienced on the plantation and elsewhere, a brutal and miserable life at times.
I found this to be a brilliantly evocative, descriptive tale of the 1800’s world and London in particular. Frannie is a strong, intelligent woman and a well rounded character and while I found this a little slow going at times it is compelling read, a historical fictional whodunnit……but is Frannie guilty….you’ll just have to read it to find out… I can thoroughly recommend it.
My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for a fair and honest review
published by Penguin Books UK