- Author : Sarah Schmidt
- Publisher : Atlantic
- Genre : True Crime, Literary Fiction
- Source : Netgalley
- Rating : 4/5 Stars
- Expected Release Date : 1st August, 2017
Okay, I’m taking a deep breath and trying to figure out how to write this review in a coherent fashion because all I’ve been able to manage so far is “OMG GO READ THIS BOOK!”
See What I Have Done is based on a real crime in Massachusetts. I can imagine the fascination one can have with murderesses because I have one myself so when I heard this book was about a true crime I couldn’t help but pick it up. Naturally, after I finished reading this I did some googling and let’s just say I got lost in the pages that I kept reading. The story follows the brutal murder of Andrew Borden and his second wife, Abby Borden in their homes. She in their bedroom and him in his favourite chair. His daughter, the younger one who was at the family home at the time, was tried and acquitted for their murder. (Emma was away at a friend’s house)
The author starts the book off with the discovery of Andrews’ body. lizzie finds him and sort of goes into a state of shock. Later, when she calls for help, her step mother’s body is also discovered. Now, there really can’t be spoilers for this book since it is based on a real crime but I shall refrain from saying more because not everyone would have googled the story before reading. I certainly didn’t and I think I enjoyed it more for that. The book is basically an examination of the family dynamics and their strained and unhealthy relationship with each other.
WHAT I LIKED : I was particularly fascinated and simultaneously nauseated by the obsessive relationship Lizzie had with people. Since she is the main character around whom the story revolves, it seems like there is something wrong with her because she is constantly obsessed with getting her way and ruining lives in the process. She is so well written, how else would you be able to constantly keep reading about a character that makes you sick to your stomach! Emma is the older sister and you are left feeling both sympathetic and frustrated with her. She is just a character that goes with the flow until the end when she stands up for herself.
I know that these are real characters and the writing is based on what was said about them but I adored the way the author wrote them and the maid. The writing feels alive and taxing, you’re left feeling dirty afterwards, like you need a shower and maybe need to throw up a bit. Being a vegetarian I have no clue how lamb stew tastes but I swear I could imagine the rotten taste of lamb stew gone bad that features prominently in the book. Yes, there are other main characters but I shall not speak of them because I don’t want to spoil it but I love how the author takes a crime and does what we all do openly. She uses her imagination to bring to life what might have happened behind locked doors in a family that should have been respectable and iconic.
WHAT I DISLIKED : Nothing. Well, maybe I would have liked it to be a little smoother between 15-30% of the book but apart from that this is going to be one of my favourite books of 2017. Go read it.
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 neighbours 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 arbour 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.