The Confessions of Frannie Langton

I never would have done what they say I’ve done, to Madame, because I loved her. Yet they say I must be put to death for it, and they want me to confess. But how can I confess what I don’t believe I’ve done?

In the last few years, I’ve made it a point to read very little about a book before I pick it up. If it’s before publication, I skim over the publisher’s description. If it’s after, I avoid all published reviews from professionals and laymen alike. By the time I picked up The Confessions of Frannie Langton, I couldn’t remember what it was about and was able to read it unencumbered by any outside noise.

It’s 1826, and Frannie awaits trial in London for the murder of her employer and his wife. She claims that she doesn’t remember anything about that night. This book serves as her account of the events of her life that led her to this point, interspersed with the testimony of witnesses and those around her. From her childhood as a slave on a sugar plantation in Jamaica where she’s groomed to be an assistant to her master as he works on his scientific race theories, to her new life in London, where Frannie is set to work for one of her master’s colleagues.

Confessions covers a lot of ground: slavery, the plight of women, love, sex, class, science. I remember being only a quarter way through the book feeling like I’d already read an entire novel. The good thing about that is the story unfolds in a way that you rarely see coming. The bad news is that around the middle, it seemed like it was taking foreeeever to get through, because there’s so much introspection and details. I was getting anxious to finally find out what happened that fateful night.

Covering so many things did slow down the book a bit, but I still learned lots and am glad I stuck through it. It’s always enjoyable to read a novel about slavery and it’s effects that feels like a fresh perspective.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars (really 3 1/2)

I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Everyday People: The Color of Life – a Short Story Anthology

Over the years I’ve developed an appreciation for short stories. I used to resent not having the ending and knowing what happened. Now I can enjoy them from a different place. I’m enjoying not knowing the full stories. Because that’s how life is.

Everyday People is a collection of fourteen short stories by a diverse group of writers of color. While the work can be considered contemporary fiction, the writing spans several different writing styles, experiences and points of view. It’s almost impossible to choose a favorite, but A Sheltered Woman by Yiyun Li is very close. A Chinese woman works taking care of newborn babies and helping their breastfeeding moms. She doesn’t stay past the time she is needed, moving on to another family when the babies are a month old. Her current employer, however, is finding it difficult to accept her new role as a mother.

Other favorites include High Pursuit by Mitchell S. Jackson (something about it just felt like ‘home’), Wisdom by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, and The Kontrabida by Mia Alvar. A great bonus at the end of the book is a Reading List of Contemporary Works by Women, Nonbinary, and Transgender Writers of Color/Indigenous Writers. It’s a very comprehensive list covering many genres that I will revisit again and again.

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.