See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

He was still bleeding.

– Opening sentence

A massive thanks to Georgina Moore who sent me a proof copy of this book after I felt like the only book blogger who hadn’t read it yet!

I don’t know if this is just me, but I hadn’t heard of the historic Lizzie Borden case before reading this book, so the poem on the back sort of gave it away a little bit:

Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one

(Apparently this is quite famous and well-known, but I’ve been living under some sort of rock.)

For those of you who are also unfamiliar with the Borden case, here are the quick facts:

On 4th August 1892, the bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden were discovered by their daughter, Lizzie Borden. Both had been violently murdered with an axe.

Lizzie was eventually arrested for their murders, and her trial was one of the first nation-wide news sensations to be covered in America. However,  she was acquitted in June 1893. (You can read more about the real case here).

See What I Have Done is a historical fiction based on the true events of the Borden murders, written by Sarah Schmidt.

Once I had finished See What I Have Done I headed straight onto Google to research the true events from the historical crime, to check how accurate Schmidt had been in her retelling. (I love a good historical crime – but I like the facts to be kept accurate.)

I was pleased to see that Schmidt had kept the majority of the events true to the real-life story, and that made me fall in love with her book even more.

Schmidt did a great job of enticing the reader, with a straight-forward writing style that allowed me to dive straight in and become engrossed in the story. It begins with discovery of Andrew Borden’s body, putting you right in the middle of the action – but you’re instantly made aware that something is not quite right, with Schmidt layering on the creep-factor right from the start.

I thought the character development was also very good. Lizzie Borden is 32, and her older sister, Emma Borden is well into her forties, meaning they were regarded as spinsters in the 1800s.

However, Lizzie acts very much like a young teenager – making demands of her parents and practically suffocating her older sister. This adds to the creep-factor, alluding the audience to that fact that something isn’t quite right.

By society’s standards, Lizzie should be married with her own children. Instead she is still living with her father, step-mother and older sister, as if trapped in a time-warp. Perhaps this is why she remains childish in nature, but could her fits of rage really lead her to hack her own parents to death?

I’ll leave that to you decide once you’ve read it!

I raised my arms above my head.

– Final sentence

4 Stars (4 / 5)

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