Publisher: Tinder Press
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
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.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for See What I Have Done!
I think most everyone is at least somewhat familiar with Lizzie Borden, we’ve all heard the rhyme about what she allegedly did but I for one didn’t know much beyond that. When the opportunity to read See What I Have Done came to me I couldn’t resist, I love the idea of a historical retelling with added embellishments and Schmidt told the story of the Borden family in a haunting and unforgettable manner.
This is told from four different viewpoints and flashes back from the day of the murders to different, critical time periods as well. Lizzie, her sister Emma, Bridget the maid and Benjamin an unknown stranger all lend their voice to the story and I loved the birds eye type view this gave the book. Each character has a wholly unique and strong voice, from Lizzie with her childlike singsong behavior to Bridget the frustrated Irish maid, they all had their own version of events and were all equally captivating to me.
I honestly cannot believe that this is a debut, Schmidt’s writing style is SO gorgeous. That may seem strange given the subject matter of the book, but it really is beautiful, her descriptions are so vivid and yes, at times macabre but really well written. It was incredibly easy to conjure up a vision due to her prose, she truly brought this strange family to life in a dark, gloomy and unique way.
Overall rating: 4/5
Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.