By: Sarah Schmidt
Publisher: Grove Atlantic
Publication Date: 8/1/2017
My Rating: 4 Stars
Lizzie Borden took an ax
And gave her mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.
Or did she?
In this riveting debut novel, See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt recasts one of the most fascinating murder cases of all time into an intimate story of a volatile household and a family devoid of love.
On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to her maid: Someone’s killed Father. The brutal ax-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, leaves little evidence and many unanswered questions. While neighbors struggle to understand why anyone would want to harm the respected Bordens, those close to the family have a different tale to tell—of a father with an explosive temper; a spiteful stepmother; and two spinster sisters, with a bond even stronger than blood, desperate for their independence.
As the police search for clues, Emma comforts an increasingly distraught Lizzie whose memories of that morning flash in scattered fragments. Had she been in the barn or the pear arbor to escape the stifling heat of the house?
When did she last speak to her stepmother? Were they really gone and would everything be better now? Shifting among the perspectives of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, and the enigmatic stranger Benjamin, the events of that fateful day are slowly revealed through a high-wire feat of storytelling.
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A special thank you to Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for an early reading copy. Review to follow.
About the Author
After completing a bachelor of arts (professional writing/editing), a master of arts (creative writing), and a graduate diploma of information management, Sarah Schmidt currently works as a reading and literacy coordinator (read: a fancy librarian) at a regional public library.
She lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her partner and daughter. See What I Have Done is her first novel. Read More
Inspiration for the Book
Sarah Schmidt I met Lizzie Borden in a second hand bookstore when a pamphlet about the Borden case fell off a shelf and landed at my feet. I wasn't interested in the case whatsoever. I put it back and left the shop.
That night I dreamt of Lizzie sitting at the end of my bed and she told me, 'I have something to tell you about my father. He has a lot to answer for.'
It was one of the creepiest and most unsettling dreams I'd ever had but I ignored it, tried to go back to sleep.
I had the same dream every night for a week. So I decided to write the dream down hoping it would go away. That was the very beginning of See What I Have Done.
I had no idea it would take me 11 years to write it.(less)