December 3, 2021

Author Sara Collins’ debut novel is set for a 2022 ITV adaptation

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Royalty-free image taken from her social media profile here

Author Sara Collins is of Jamaican descent and grew up in Grand Cayman. Her debut novel, The Confessions of Frannie Langton (published by Harper in 2019) was an immediate success, garnering both the Costa Book Award for First Novel and an HWA Debut Crown nomination.

Despite the success of her first novel, we couldn’t really qualify Sara Collins as an overnight success. In fact, she took quite a detour in becoming a best-selling author. 

She studied law at the London School of Economics and then worked as a lawyer for the next 17 years before realizing that it wasn’t her calling. So, she decided to make a career change at 40. She got her master’s degree in creative writing at Cambridge University and went on to pen her first novel.

About the Book

Image of the book cover taken from this social media site here

The Confessions of Frannie Langton is set in 1826 London where a maid is put on trial for the murder of her employer and his wife. The trial sets all of London abuzz as the media portrays the accused as “a seductress, a witch, a master manipulator, a whore.”

The accused maid, Frannie Langton, claims she cannot recall the tragic events of the evening of the murder or how she came to be covered in the victims’ blood. Instead, she tells the court a different story – one even more heinous – a story that begins in the sugar plantations of Jamaica and leads her into an apprenticeship under an unscrupulous scientist and then to London, into the service of Mr. and Mrs. Benham, the employers she is accused of brutally killing.

Her testimony may seal her conviction, but it may also reveal a truth far more damning – a truth that would indict the whole of English society.

While murder doesn’t make the ultimate guide to dealing with racism in the workplace, it does make for compelling, thought-provoking historical gothic fiction.

“(It is) a brilliant murder mystery whose searing depiction of race, class, and oppression penetrates the skin and sears the soul.”

Readers call the work a “compelling and engrossing dark gothic tale”,  “historical fiction that packs a punch”, and “beautiful, riveting, dark, and haunting” – to quote but a few excerpts from the many positive reviews. The Guardian also called the book “Bold and timely… visceral and immediate.”

About the Adaptation

The casting has already been announced. Karla-Simone Spence – perhaps most known for Blue Story and Gold Digger – will play the titular protagonist. Sophie Cookson – perhaps most known for Kingsman and Greed – and Stephen Campbell Moore – of Downton Abbey fame – round out the leading roles.

About bringing the fictional character to life on the screen, leading actress Karla-Simone Spece said, “It’s an absolute honor and dream to bring to life the intelligent, forward-thinking, resilient woman that is Frannie Langton.”

The much-anticipated period drama will be divided into 4 parts and is currently being filmed in Yorkshire.

The Company That You Keep

To put her success into perspective and to get a sense of just how well-received her debut novel was, we can cite the following evidence.

The Confessions of Frannie Langton made Electric Lit’s list, 7 Novels About Black People in Love along with such classics as The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, and Beloved by Toni Morrison. That’s impressive company to be associated with and bodes well for Sara Collins’ staying power in the minds of book enthusiasts and literary critics.

Literary Hub also recently published a list titled Six of the Best Bad Women in Fiction. On this list, Sara Collins’ work is placed alongside such enduring classics as Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.

We’ll know soon enough whether the TV adaptation by ITV will also be placed in the ranks of such prominent company – perhaps on a list of ‘best historical dramas’ or ‘best TV adaptation of a work of literature. For the sake of viewers, fans of compelling mini-series, and for the sake of the author, Sara Collins, we sure hope that is the case.

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