Sara Collins. Credit: Justine Stoddart
Who is Sara Collins?
I studied law at the London School of Economics and worked as a lawyer for 17 years before pursuing my lifelong ambition of writing a novel. I obtained a master’s degree in Creative Writing from Cambridge University, where I started writing my novel in late 2015.
Why are you going to know all about Sara next month?
The Confessions of Frannie Langton will be published by Penguin (Viking) in the UK on 4 April 2019.
It will also be published on 21 May 2019 in the US and Canada, as well as in several other countries.
What is your book about?
It’s the story of Frannie Langton, a young Jamaican woman who grows up on the Paradise plantation in Jamaica. At the age of 19, she’s brought to London by her owner, John Langton, and given as a gift to George Benham, a famous natural philosopher. She is later accused of murdering Benham, and his wife, with whom she has been having a passionate love affair.
Why did you choose to write it? On International Women's Day, does it tell us something about women?
The novel takes the form of a fictional autobiography written from Newgate prison. In explaining why she wants to write it, Frannie says: “A man writes to separate himself from the common history. A woman writes to try to join it.”
There’s a quartet of women at the heart of the book. In addition to Frannie, there’s Phibbah, the beleaguered housekeeper at the Paradise plantation, Miss-Bella, their disenchanted mistress, and Madame Benham, Frannie’s mistress-turned-lover in London. Each is completely under the thumb of the men of their households, yet the novel explores how they find ways to resist. I’m fascinated by the ways in which a novelist can look beyond the record, putting a finger not only on what we have in common with people who lived long ago, but also what we have in common with each other: in this case, how one of the real tragedies of history was the way women (black and white) were deprived of the ability to tell their own stories.
Keep your eyes peeled as we will be giving away copies of Sara's book, bound to start conversations, after publication. We want to hear what you think!