See What I Have Done – Eerie, unsettling historical fiction
On 4 August 1892 Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts. During the inquest into the deaths, Lizzie Borden was arrested and charged with the murder of her father and her stepmother.
Through the eyes of Lizzie’s sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, the enigmatic stranger Benjamin and the beguiling Lizzie herself, we return to what happened that day in Fall River.
Lizzie Borden took an axe. Or did she?
See What I Have Done. In the recesses of my mind, the famous skipping song about Lizzie Borden and her axe lurks. As a kid, I never really bothered to understand the meaning behind it, or how such a macabre tale became a schoolyard rhyme.
Before I read See What I Have Done, I did some online investigating to familiarise myself with the story of Lizzie. What struck me most were her cold, glacial eyes which stared right through me in old posed photos from 1892. It unsettled me, and set a precedent for what was to come within the pages.
Sarah Schmidt weaves historical fact with her fiction creating a spider-like web. Intricate, detailed, structured, yet with a strength and uniqueness to hold its own amongst the many adaptations in both print and screen of this fascinating crime.
Why, after nearly 125 years are we still intrigued by the tale of Lizzie Borden? Was it that a woman could not have possibly committed such a gruesome crime, coming from such a well to do family? Was it the bizarre account of what happened? That her stepmother and father could be axed to death in the house while she was there, yet she heard and saw nothing? The evidence (or lack thereof), or the reporters who salacious lapped up this gruesome story and made Lizzie an infamous celebrity and town outcast.
What Did I Think?
Schmidt conveys the emotional distance of the Bordens, and the lives of the three women in Mr. Borden’s life exquisitely. Three women; one wife and two sisters who are all fearful, yet always vying for approval and love, which rarely comes, from the head of the wealthy household.
The book tick-tocks along with clever use of repetition and language of the period to convey the long years and monotonous days the Bordens and their housekeeper Bridget were holed up in the large, yet stuffy and oppressive house. By the end of the book, the mere mention of mutton soup made me gag, and I had to take little breaks between chapters to stop Lizzie crawling under my skin and getting into my head.
A fascinating historical fiction that stayed with me long after I read the last page.
A must buy for any true crime, thriller, and suspense fan. If you loved Making A Murderer and Burial Rites, you will lap this up.
4/5 – eerie, unsettling with a tick-tock pace of building apprehension.
Buy it now at Booktopia and have it in a couple of days!