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Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2019 – APRIL READ – Demon Dentist by David Walliams

Published May 6, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Darkness had come to the town. Strange things were happening in the dead of night. Children would put a tooth under their pillow for the tooth fairy, but in the morning they would wake up to find… a dead slug; a live spider; hundreds of earwigs creeping and crawling beneath their pillow.

Evil was at work. But who or what was behind it…?

What did I think?:

First of all, apologies (especially to my sister!) for getting this post out so late. Chrissi and I usually try to get our kid-lit posts out at the end of the month but this past week, I’ve been feeling a little under the weather and have only got round to doing it now. It’s always a pleasure to pick up a David Walliams book and even though I only discovered him a few years ago and was slightly sceptical, I can really see why he’s so beloved, particularly amongst children. You always know what you’re getting when you pick up one of his books. He has such a wonderful sense of humour, brilliant characterisation and an edge of reality that make his books such a joy to read.

David Walliams, author of Demon Dentist.

I say you always know what to expect when picking up a Walliams books but to be perfectly honest, Demon Dentist completely surprised me. I found it much darker than the author’s previous books with a villainous character that was nothing short of terrifying. However, I loved that he wasn’t afraid to explore some more difficult aspects of life. For example, our young protagonist Alfie’s father is chronically ill in a wheelchair and as a result, some parts of the narrative make for a very emotional and hard-hitting reading experience. Despite his father’s health issues, Alfie still has a wonderful relationship with him and it was heart-warming to read about their interactions. I can only applaud the author for choosing to write about a father-son relationship that is not conventional or expected so as to illustrate that not all families have the luxury of having parents who are healthy and well.

Alfie’s dad, beautifully illustrated by Tony Ross.

Image from: https://www.worldofdavidwalliams.com/book/demon-dentist/

In Demon Dentist, Alfie hasn’t been to the dentist for a long, long time after a bad experience when he was younger and his teeth are now rotten. Then when a new dentist, Ms Root comes to town and starts taking a rather obsessive interest in all the children’s teeth, Alfie begins to realise that something is seriously wrong and vows to get to the bottom of it. The villain of the piece who is of course, Ms Root as you may have guessed, is a fantastic villain in every sense of the word. She looks a bit strange, she definitely acts a bit strange and, as with all good baddies, she has an evil plot afoot that involves all the children of the town and their teeth.

As I mentioned earlier, things get quite frightening in Demon Dentist but it’s all done with Walliams’ trademark wit and style accompanied by the most glorious illustrations by Tony Ross. The action never lets up for a second and I whizzed through this book in less than a day very easily as I found it very difficult to put down. Just when I thought there may have been a resolution, there was another crescendo of tension and terror that our poor hero Alfie was subjected to! Eventually it does end – not particularly in a satisfying way I have to say, there is quite a bit of heart-break but it is also accompanied by hope for the future which as it turns out, is a far more realistic ending to a fantastical story.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

COMING UP IN MAY ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: The Enchanted Wood (The Faraway Tree #1) – Enid Blyton.

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Talking About Now You See Her by Heidi Perks with Chrissi Reads

Published April 26, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Charlotte is looking after her best friend’s daughter the day she disappears. She thought the little girl was playing with her own children. She swears she only took her eyes off them for a second.

Now, Charlotte must do the unthinkable: tell her best friend Harriet that her only child is missing. The child she was meant to be watching.

Devastated, Harriet can no longer bear to see Charlotte. No one could expect her to trust her friend again.
Only now she needs to. Because two weeks later Harriet and Charlotte are both being questioned separately by the police. And secrets are about to surface.

Someone is hiding the truth about what really happened to Alice. 

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: Did you have any preconceptions before you went into reading this book?

BETH: No, not really. I had read some excellent reviews from my fellow book bloggers and because it was on the Richard and Judy book club list for Spring, I had high hopes that we were going to be getting a great psychological thriller. However, because I feel like I’ve read a lot of books in that genre recently, I was a little bit concerned that it was going to be a bit too similar. Keeping an open mind was the best idea though because I really ended up enjoying it!

BETH: Charlotte has a really tough time in this novel when a child she is looking after goes missing. Did you sympathise with her?

CHRISSI: Oh my goodness. It is my WORST fear. As you know, I teach and I’m responsible for 31 children every week day and it would seriously be my worst nightmare. I can’t imagine the guilt you would feel if a child in your care went missing, so yes. I TOTALLY sympathised with Charlotte. I know some people would think that Charlotte should have been paying much more attention to the child, but something can happen in an instant. You can’t possibly be watching every second.

CHRISSI: The thriller genre is very populated. Do you think this book stands out enough?

BETH: It most definitely is. As I mentioned in the previous answer, there is a risk that the market has become a bit over-saturated with books that explore all the same themes and as a result, that can make them less exciting to read – especially if you can predict what’s going to happen within the story. I haven’t read any books by this author before but I do think it stands out. It was a very quick, fast-paced story that was enjoyable with some interesting characterisation and even more intriguing, tense moments.

BETH: The story illustrates the importance of a good friendship support network. Do you think if Harriet had this things might have been different?

CHRISSI: I think things would have been very different if Harriet had a good friendship support network. I also wish she had a stronger friendship with Charlotte. I feel that if she was closer to Charlotte she could have explained more to her about her life. I wish her friendship circle had been larger so she would’ve had more people to turn to and talk to. I felt like Harriet isolated herself from others.

CHRISSI: Without spoilers, did you predict where this story was going to go?

BETH: I don’t think I did, which was a relief! I love to be surprised, particularly in this genre and do get a bit disappointed if I can predict what’s going to happen. This book did surprise me with the direction that it took and I particularly loved the darker aspects of the plot (which I couldn’t possibly discuss for fear of spoilers) but added something a little extra to the story in general.

BETH: This novel has also been marketed under the title Her One Mistake. What title do you prefer?

CHRISSI: Ooh, this is a tricky one because I get the reasons behind the two titles. Hmmm… I guess I do prefer Now You See Her because it makes me think ‘now you see her, now you don’t…’ and I think that’s quite a creepy feel which fits with the novel. I feel like there were more mistakes made in this novel than just one and not all by females…

CHRISSI: Discuss the pacing of this novel.

BETH: The pacing of this novel was excellent. It was fast-paced but not so fast-paced that you find yourself struggling to keep up with everything that’s going on. I also appreciated that it was slow enough where you got a real sense of the characters i.e. their personalities, their past experiences and their motives and in that way, it made me feel a deeper connection and care about them a bit more individually.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I definitely would. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I read so many books like this that it takes quite a lot to impress me.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Blog Tour – Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre

Published April 25, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

To new nanny Amanda, the Temple family seem to have it all: the former actress; the famous professor; their three successful grown-up children. But like any family, beneath the smiles and hugs there lurks far darker emotions.

Sixteen years earlier, little Niamh Temple died while they were on holiday in Portugal. Now, as Amanda joins the family for a reunion at their seaside villa, she begins to suspect one of them might be hiding something terrible…

And suspicion is a dangerous thing.

What did I think?:

I’ve been familiar with the name Chris Brookmyre for a little while as one of my good friends has been doggedly persuading me to try some of his fiction for months. With previous works entitled: Quite Ugly One Morning and All Fun And Games Until Someone Loses An Eye I really don’t know why I’ve waited so long to read the author’s work – who could resist with intriguing titles like that? Yet still I wavered until the lovely people at Little Brown publishers asked if I’d like to be on the blog tour for Chris’s new stand-alone novel, Fallen Angel. Of course I thought it was a perfect opportunity to sample his work so I jumped at the chance. Thank you so much to Caolinn Douglas and Grace Vincent for inviting me onto this tour and providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Chris Brookmyre, author of Fallen Angel and the Jack Parlabane series.

Well I’m so happy to report that my friend was absolutely right when it came to Chris Brookmyre. He is a fantastic author with such a talent for characterisation and timing that this novel was truly a delight to read. Being Scottish myself, I loved the subtle Scottish references throughout, especially to certain words familiar to the Scots language i.e. “wean,” and for me, this brought an extra something special to the entire reading experience as I instantly felt so comforted by the writing style. I have to admit at the beginning, I wasn’t sure where the author was going to be taking the story. It’s very much a slow burner that initially sets the scene following the lives of multiple characters both within and close to a specific family.

I’ve mentioned in recent reviews how much I love intricate character development in crime fiction and although I may have hesitated for a chapter or so at the start, unsure of how the crime element related to the narrative, I soon realised that this is part of the beauty of Fallen Angel. This is one of the reasons why I love crime so much that focuses specifically on individuals rather than plot. We learn so much about each our protagonists, in fact we get to know some of them incredibly intimately and this only bodes for a more explosive release as the tension begins to build and the secrets are finally unearthed.

A large proportion of Fallen Angel is set in Portugal where the families we follow have holiday villas.

This is a work of crime fiction so as a result, I don’t want to tell you very much at all about the plot. This is the kind of book you need to savour and discover all the shocks and surprises yourself without it being spoiled. All I can say is that if you’re a fan of family drama, deceit and scandalous events, you’re in for a treat with Fallen Angel. There are not many likeable characters to be found and occasionally there are some where you can’t understand their motives or thought processes at all, but to be honest, that’s my favourite kind of characters. It felt like Chris Brookmyre was writing very candidly about a family where many of the members have multiple, very difficult emotional issues or skeletons in their closets just waiting to burst out. It was a pleasure to be a reader along on the journey, eagerly awaiting the next dramatic event or twist in the tail. As a result, ALL of Chris Brookmyre’s books have now gone on my wish-list and I hope I’ll be reviewing another one for you very soon.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Christopher Brookmyre is a Scottish novelist whose novels mix politics, social comment and action with a strong narrative. He has been referred to as a Tartan Noir author. His debut novel was Quite Ugly One Morning, and subsequent works have included One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night, which he said “was just the sort of book he needed to write before he turned 30”, and All Fun and Games until Somebody Loses an Eye (2005).

Find Chris on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/167572.Christopher_Brookmyre

on his website at: http://www.brookmyre.co.uk/

on Twitter at: @cbrookmyre

Thank you so much once again to Caolinn Douglas, Grace Vincent and Little Brown for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Fallen Angel is published on 25th April 2019 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Fallen Angel on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43063636-fallen-angel

Link to Fallen Angel on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fallen-Angel-Chris-Brookmyre/dp/1408710838/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_3?crid=3RZ7UEV65XWV1&keywords=fallen+angel+chris+brookmyre&qid=1556133445&s=gateway&sprefix=fallen+angel%2Caps%2C327&sr=8-3-fkmrnull

Call Me Star Girl – Louise Beech

Published April 22, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Tonight is the night for secrets…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after twelve years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

With echoes of the chilling Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…

What did I think?:

I first came across the wonderful Louise Beech’s writing in her last novel, The Lion Tamer Who Lost which was published last year and completely captured my heart from the the first page to the very last. When I heard she was writing a new book and that it was a psychological thriller, I was thrilled to be able to get my hands on it so a huge thank you to Karen Sullivan and all at Orenda Books for sending me a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. Having only read one other book by this author, I’m no expert on her style but personally, I felt Call Me Star Girl was quite a departure from the genre she usually commands and only confirms how beautifully versatile she is a an author. Once again, I was delighted by the gritty nature of the narrative which was only amplified by the specific plot-line of the story and the fact that it involves the unsolved murder of a young, pregnant woman.

Louise Beech, author of Call Me Star Girl. 

Louise Beech has a fantastic knack for twisting the reader round her little finger in the way she creates her characters, develops an enthralling plot and manages to keep us hooked with tantalising little surprises here and there. I was instantly intrigued by the character of Stella and how we see her life as flashes of memories from her distant past and her fractured relationship with her mother, the most recent past regarding her intense relationship with her boyfriend, Tom and her present situation during her last ever shift as a late night presenter on a local radio station. As with all brilliant psychological thrillers, I’m afraid I simply cannot tell you a thing for fear of spoiling it, but I adored how the author used her natural literary flair to portray the intricate characters and their relationships between each other which only served to drive the narrative and ensure it became something very special indeed.

Our main protagonist, Stella McKeever works at a radio station and through the novel, is participating in her final work shift.

If you’ve been following my blog for a little while, you might know that I have the greatest respect for both genre and literary fiction. Sometimes I want a novel with a fast-paced, action-filled plot with short, snappy chapters and where it doesn’t really matter what the characters have for breakfast or not (joke!). Then at other times, I live for that literary crime fiction with all the intricate character details that I’ve been craving. I love when an author creates characters that you can really see, feel and hear and that you actually feel closer to purely because you understand every aspect of their daily existence and emotional well-being. This is exactly what Louise Beech has done with Call Me Star Girl. I was fascinated with Stella, her boyfriend Tom and her mother, Elizabeth and as it is told from dual perspectives and across different time-lines, you start to KNOW these characters intimately rather than just feeling merely acquainted with them.

Even then, the author has the power to pull the rug out from under your feet and completely turn the tables on what you might have been thinking or hoping. As I’ve mentioned in countless other reviews, I admire when an author can do that so effortlessly, like Louise does. This is probably because as a regular reader of crime fiction and literary crime fiction, I can’t help but try to work out what might be going on before the official reveal. As a result, the book climbs exponentially higher for me when that element of surprise is maintained and I don’t guess what may be going on.

As a psychological thriller, the author has surpassed all of my expectations with Call Me Star Girl and even though it’s a few days since I’ve finished it now, I’m still thinking about the final outcome of this novel. Perhaps more importantly, I’m also thinking about their characters and the relationships they had, which is definitely a clearer sign that the book managed to get under my skin.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Daisy Jones And The Six (buddy read with Chrissi Reads) by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Published April 20, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

 

And now for something a bit different…..

 

Hi everyone and welcome to a bit of a different review on my blog today. I read quite a lot of books with my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads. We have regular monthly features like our Kid-Lit challenge and Banned Books and then we have our Talking About feature where we both read a book then come together and do an interview-like post that explores our thoughts and feelings about what we’ve just read. 

I read The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo (arguably Taylor Jenkins Reid’s most famous book at this point in time) as a buddy read with blogger bestie Janel from Keeper Of Pages and enjoyed it so much I immediately passed it on to Chrissi to read too. It made Chrissi and I want to read Daisy Jones And The Six together as a buddy read, where we chatted three times through the book and after we finished, we fancied reviewing it a bit differently too!

We’ve decided to take the word DAISY JONES and for each letter, to find a word that describes some of the themes and in some cases, our feelings about the book.

 

Let’s get on with it!

D is for Daisy – 

Daisy is one of our main protagonists in this novel and such a fascinating character. Even though she makes some questionable decisions in the story, I still found myself rooting for her and caring about her as an individual.

A is for Argumentative –

The band Daisy Jones And The Six reminded me quite vividly of the real-life band, Fleetwood Mac who made an incredible album called Rumours but had so many scandals and in-fighting within the band. Like our band in the novel, it made for some great music though!

I is for Inspiring –

There are a few reasons why this word works for me in relation to the novel. There were some inspiring characters that I adored like Camila and her dedication and loyalty to her husband, Billy. Then there were my own feelings of being inspired by Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing. Everything about this band felt real and like Evelyn Hugo, I felt I could look them up as genuine individuals on Google!

S is for Strength –

Strength relates to some of the characters and their personalities. Again, I refer to Camila and the trials she goes through but it also reminds me of her husband, Billy who goes through hell and back with his own personal demons but refuses to succumb to them.

Y is for Yearning –

Oh yes. A LOT of yearning in this novel. Yearning of the characters for each other, yearning for a better life and yearning within the songs that the band write.

J is for Jealousy –

I picked up on oodles of jealousy in Daisy Jones And The Six. I think that’s quite normal in a band where you have people that steal more of the limelight and whether subconsciously or consciously neglect to let others have their time to shine.

O is for Outrageous –

The rock and roll lifestyle comes with some rock and roll behaviour from some of our characters. However, it was interesting to see how it connects with past events in their lives that may have precipitated more riskier behaviours.

N is for Narcotics –

What else can I say? Even though I don’t condone drug-taking myself, this is a novel about a rock and roll band in the 1970’s and drugs play quite a big role in some of the characters lives.

E is for Engrossing –

From the beginning, I thought this was going to be quite a difficult book to buddy read with Chrissi as I just didn’t want to put it down when I reached a specific checkpoint. Luckily, she was reading like a demon so I never had to wait!!

S is for Satisfying –

This is the perfect word for not only how I felt when I finished Daisy Jones And The Six but how I now view Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing in general. She’s filled me with such a hunger to read everything she has ever written and I await with eager anticipation what she writes next.

 

As you might be able to tell, I absolutely adored Daisy Jones And The Six. It was such a compelling, quirky read made all the more unique by the format it takes i.e. written as an interview with members of the band and those closest to them. Although I was tentative about the entire book being written like this at the start, it completely worked and made it such a fast-paced, enjoyable reading experience. I fell hard and fast for specific characters, in particular Daisy, Camila and Billy and it was wonderful to watch their journey as individuals and through their roller-coaster ride as the band’s fame sky-rocked through the story.

If you love a gripping yarn, stories about real people and their struggles and a plot that is entertaining and exciting, look no further than Daisy Jones And The Six. Believe the hype, it’s real.

To check out what Chrissi chose for her DAISY JONES words, please see her fabulous post HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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No Way Out (DI Adam Fawley #3) – Cara Hunter

Published April 17, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

DID YOU SEE ANYTHING ON THE NIGHT THE ESMOND FAMILY WERE MURDERED? 

From the author of CLOSE TO HOME and IN THE DARK comes the third pulse-pounding DI Fawley crime thriller.

It’s one of the most disturbing cases DI Fawley has ever worked. 

The Christmas holidays, and two children have just been pulled from the wreckage of their burning home in North Oxford. The toddler is dead, and his brother is soon fighting for his life.

Why were they left in the house alone? Where is their mother, and why is their father not answering his phone?

Then new evidence is discovered, and DI Fawley’s worst nightmare comes true.

Because this fire wasn’t an accident.

It was murder.

What did I think?:

I’m so excited to talk to you about Cara Hunter’s incredible new novel, No Way Out, the third book in the DI Adam Fawley crime series set in Oxford and published in paperback on 18th April. If you’ve read my previous reviews of Close To Home and In The Dark, you won’t be surprised to hear that I’m a massive fan of Cara’s writing, her characters and this series in general so my expectations were sky high for this latest instalment. Thank you so much to Jane Gentle at Penguin Random House UK for sending me a complimentary copy a few months ago in exchange for an honest review. I deliberately held off on reading this book until a couple of months ago as I prefer to read and review as close to publication date as possible. Finally, when I couldn’t hold back any longer, I finally cracked open No Way Out and was delighted to fully immerse myself within Fawley’s world once more, a world I had been sorely missing since I finished In The Dark last year.

Cara Hunter, author of No Way Out, the third book in the DI Adam Fawley series. 

Each of Cara’s novels in this series has the beauty of being able to stand on its own, as a story in its own right and so you could potentially read it without having read any of the other novels in the Fawley saga. However, for all the specific nuances of the individual characters and the way in which we slowly get to know them through these three books, I would honestly recommend starting right from the beginning with Close To Home. One of my favourite things about this series is the way in which the author develops her characters. I believe I’ve mentioned in a previous review that it’s not just all about Adam Fawley with the other characters playing supportive, occasionally bland and vague roles as I’ve seen with some other crime fiction series.

I’m happy to announce this remains the case with No Way Out – the characters are all fully developed, interesting, personable and individually valuable and more often than not, Adam Fawley will step back within the narrative and allow another character to take centre stage. As a reader, I adore when an author does this. It’s so refreshing to see such a host of vibrant personalities that all have their own, very unique story to share. I feel as if I’m getting to know each one – Gislingham, Quinn, Somer and Everett separately and as a result, it makes them instantly more relatable and authentic, especially with the delicate way the author drip feeds information about their lives through each novel.

The city of Oxford, UK – the setting for No Way Out.

As with all my reviews but particularly for thrillers or crime fiction, you won’t be getting any spoilers here but it’s safe to say I was once again completely engrossed by this fascinating and devastating case of a house fire which involves a family with two children. The compelling element behind this tragedy is that the parents of the children appear to both be missing as the police start to investigate what happened. In classic Cara Hunter style, she uses social media, articles and transcripts from interviews to compliment her writing in what becomes an intense, highly gripping narrative which completely took my breath away. I’m familiar enough with the author’s style that I know she’s going to surprise me and I try to keep an open as mind a possible and not think too deeply about what might be going on or whom the “villain” of the piece may be. Nevertheless, she still manages to knock it out of the park every single time. I’m always shocked, constantly captivated and increasingly bereft that I’ve reached the end. Saying that, it does leave me with an exciting little fizz of anticipation in my stomach, ready for the next instalment!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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The Confessions Of Frannie Langton – Sara Collins

Published April 15, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

‘A book of heart, soul and guts…beautifully written, lushly evocative, and righteously furious. Frannie might be a 19th century character, but she is also a heroine for our times’Elizabeth Day

‘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?

‘A seductive and entrancing read, with captivating historical detail…The Confessions of Frannie Langton is an extremely powerful book that resonates long after the final page has been turned’ Laura Carlin, the author of The Wicked Cometh

‘I loved it…Not only a good read but an important book, reminding us of both how far the world has come and how little it has changed. I was gripped, amused, and saddened. I ate Sara Collins’ words up as though they were the sugar, or laudanum, that she writes about so evocatively. It’s a glory of a book’Stephanie Butland

What did I think?:

This review comes with an enormous thank you to Ellie Hudson at Viking Books UK who very kindly sent me a copy of this astonishing debut novel in exchange for an honest review. I had seen a bit of buzz around this book for a little while now, especially from the people I follow over on Instagram and once my attention is captured in that way, it’s hard to rest until I find out what all the fuss is about for myself. It’s even more satisfying as a reader when all that hype is completely worth it and you read a book that is so captivating that you’re just grateful for the opportunity to have picked it up. The Confessions Of Frannie Langton is a fascinating historical treat which follows a young woman from Jamaica that intrigues you from the very first chapter and is the sort of novel that gets under your skin, digging its heels in until you’ve finished the final page.

Sara Collins, author of debut novel The Confessions Of Frannie Langton.

The devastation of slavery and how it affects the individuals who are enslaved, the slave-owners who harbour ridiculous beliefs and their unbelievable feelings of entitlement and the first rumblings of anti-slavery are all brought vividly to life through the power of Sara Collins’ writing. It provides us with unforgettable characters like Frannie who possesses such a convoluted personal history filled with grief, heart-break and horrific decisions. She never feels as if she belongs in a specific area or with a particular group of people purely because of the colour of her skin and because she is raised in a very experimental way i.e. to be educated to the same level as a 19th century “white” person. As a result, individuals of both races treat her with derision and suspicion, believing she is not “one of them,” or that she believes herself above her station in life.

Coupled with this, Frannie has had some hideous experiences at her first home in Jamaica, enslaved and put to work as an assistant for Mr Langton in order to investigate some of his personal theories. It is because of the events that occur in her home country that leads to her arriving in England and being placed in the home of the Benham’s. This concurrently marks another huge turning point in her life which brings us to the present time period where the reader first meets her, being tried in a court of law. From this moment, we go back in time and hear Frannie’s incredible story and begin to learn about the instances in her past that have brought her to such a dangerous reckoning.

The Old Bailey courthouse, London, 1897 as it would have looked when our character, Frannie Langton stood trial. 

Image from: https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/static/The-old-bailey.jsp

This was such an interesting read and as I mentioned earlier, I found myself gripped by it from the very beginning, mainly because we meet Frannie at such a pivotal moment in her life and as a reader, I just wanted to know everything that preceded it. Little did I know, the trial at The Old Bailey was not the only defining moment of Frannie’s young life and the novel explores all the uglier (and occasionally happy moments) of her story in full, glorious detail. She is an unreliable narrator at the beginning, mainly because she has no recollection of the immediate events that led to her trial but ever so slowly, things start to make sense and become slightly clearer. Nevertheless, the author keeps us on tenterhooks until the very end before revealing all the dastardly goings-on of the night in question.

This novel is luminous in the way it approaches the historical elements of the narrative and oozing with atmosphere that made me feel as if I was walking the exact same paths as Frannie herself. There were some tough moments too and I loved that Sara Collins was not afraid to explore the dark side of that particular time period, especially with slavery and the perspectives on the black community. It felt gritty, realistic, disturbing and important and I’m so excited to see what she’ll write next.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0