See What I Have Done

See What I Have Done

Book - 2017
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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.
Publisher: New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, 2017.
Edition: First Grove Atlantic hardcover edition.
ISBN: 9780802126597
0802126596
Branch Call Number: FIC SCHMI
Characteristics: 328 pages

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SkokieStaff_Steven Oct 19, 2017

After reading the new Lizzie Borden historical novel "See What I Have Done" by Sarah Schmidt, I cannot decide which family I’d less like to be a member of: the Bordens or the Mansons. To say that Lizzie, her sister, her father, and her stepmother didn’t always get on with each other is like saying the Trump West Wing doesn’t always manifest an ideal of harmonious cooperation. Despite fierce competition, Lizzie herself emerges as the most difficult Borden, and I am now convinced that the greatest Lizzie Borden murder mystery is how she managed to make it to the end of her natural days without someone killing her. Don’t get me wrong: See What I Have Done is a serious literary work written in an highly affected style. Still, it’s so over the top that I found it a little ridiculous. Somewhere, Joyce Carol Oates is kicking herself for not writing this book.

Nicr Oct 11, 2017

Intensely imagined psychodrama featuring Lizzie Borden and her infamous ax. Lizzie, sister Emma, maid Bridget and feral drifter Benjamin (the least persuasive character) alternate points of view. Readers looking for courtroom drama and/or forensics will be disappointed, as these things are not Schmidt's interests.

a
anyothergirl
Oct 07, 2017

The atmosphere is well done, as are the characters, but I felt the addition of fictional Benjamin was unnecessary and too many strands were left unresolved, meant only to add to that atmosphere when they had potential to be useful to the plot. The author clearly didn't want to stray too far from what was known of the events, Benjamin aside, but in doing so missed out on some clever opportunity. The writing itself was superb.

e
EyeGlasses
Aug 21, 2017

Fabulous voices of the four characters narrating the different chapters. Lizzie : high maintenance is the kindest thing to say. Emma: brow-beaten and neglected. Bridget: treated like a dog and plenty angry about it. Benjamin: A fictional character, but oooooh -- just wait 'til you meet him. He's a brilliant addition. This author has skills!
However: Really, really ghoulish details. Characters frequently lick things (spattered blood, furniture, their teeth). Odd smells. Dead animals. Yet everyone is constantly eating pears from the Borden backyard orchard and week-old mutton soup. Lots and lots of vomiting.
Do not read while you are enjoying a meal or if you have a low tolerance for gore. Or, just read until you can't stand any more because it tends to get worse as the book goes on.

ChiPubLib_Adults Aug 04, 2017

What better way to observe the 125th anniversary of the Lizzie Borden murders than this new novel about the events?

Infolass May 01, 2017

Cold. Claustrophobic. Creepy. This fictionalized account of the real- life Borden Murders that took place in Fall River, Massachusetts, 1892 takes the reader into the heads of this dysfunctional family and associates, cleverly weaving back stories of the key living characters in this heartless, joyless house. We know from page one, a murder has been committed.

The setting and time period has been well researched but it is Sarah’s skill as a writer in voicing the key characters in all its detail:

“I looked at him, saw the beginnings of a grin, saw a little gap between his front teeth. He struck out his hand and I grabbed it, gave a handshake. His skin was elderly-soft, someone who never had to use their hands for work. There was blood on my thumb, on my wrist, and when we finished shaking hands, there was blood on his too. ”

..that makes you pay attention to this book and read till the end.

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Infolass May 01, 2017

Infolass thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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Infolass May 01, 2017

"I was thinking of the winter, wondering when Mrs Borden would come home from visiting her relative, wondering how soon I could leave the house, go back to my family, go back to best feelings, when I heard a chock, chock sound come from the bottom of the house. I thought of Mr Borden and the pigeons. Chock. There was no bird sound. Chock. My heart got to beating fast and I gripped onto my bed, turned to look at my family. Chock, chock. A sound of grunting, like an animal eating. Chock.
Where was that coming from? Chock, chock.
A horse cart rolled down the street. Chock, the air was still, chock, the city bells struck, and was much too loud. I gripped onto my bed, couldn't move, couldn't breath, couldn't think. My bladder felt like bursting. The house went quiet. For a moment I wondered if I was in a dream. I didn't want to open my door, didn't want to go downstairs, didn't want to know what was down there.
Then I heard Lizzie call out, 'Bridget!' "

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