Sunday, February 14, 2016

Review: The Secrets of Lizzie Borden by Brandy Purdy

In her enthralling, richly imagined new novel, Brandy Purdy, author of The Ripper’s Wife, creates a compelling portrait of the real, complex woman behind an unthinkable crime.

Lizzie Borden should be one of the most fortunate young women in Fall River, Massachusetts. Her wealthy father could easily afford to provide his daughters with fashionable clothes, travel, and a rich, cultured life. Instead, haunted by the ghost of childhood poverty, he forces Lizzie and her sister, Emma, to live frugally, denying them the simplest modern conveniences. Suitors and socializing are discouraged, as her father views all gentleman callers as fortune hunters. Lonely and deeply unhappy, Lizzie stifles her frustration, dreaming of the freedom that will come with her eventual inheritance. But soon, even that chance of future independence seems about to be ripped away. And on a stifling August day in 1892, Lizzie’s long-simmering anger finally explodes…

Vividly written and thought-provoking, The Secrets of Lizzie Borden explores the fascinating events behind a crime that continues to grip the public imagination—a story of how thwarted desires and desperate rage could turn a dutiful daughter into a notorious killer.

Paperback384 pages
Published January 26th 2016 by Kensington
arc via netgalley
I don't read a lot of true crime fiction but I'll admit to being fascinated with the Lizzie Borden case.  It was such a spectacular case in 1892, with that famous rhyming verse and really whether or not she was in fact guilty of this horrible crime.  Though history has never really proven beyond a doubt what happened it's always interesting to speculate.  Such is the case with The Secrets of Lizzie Borden by Brandy Purdy.

The story is told by Lizzie Borden herself, she chronologies her life from a little girl meeting her new mother (step mother that is) and through to the end of her life.  Her relationship with sister Emma, her father and mother, her hopes, dreams and desires are laid out for the reader making it easy to sympathize and feel her struggles as life just isn't going the way she would like. 

Though this book make me feel for her and all she endured at the hands of a frugal and controling father I did struggle at times reading this.  Up until the trial I was captivated with the story, but after that it was hard to stay interested.  Here she is now in her 30's, a grown woman and with everything that she went through I would have thought she would be a little more mature in her actions.  Her emotions piloted her life while lacking common sense and I felt it over the top at times. 

This is my first experience reading Brandy Purdy, she wrote an interesting story and I can appreciate her research and time spent writing this book.  Her writing style made for easy reading but I was also easily distracted by her overly elaborate descriptive sentences, some of which I found to be overly long.

Thank you to the Kensington Books and Netgalley for the opportunity to review The Secrets of Lizzie Borden


  1. I do agree that the descriptive writing slowed the story down at times, but I still loved the 'word pictures' she painted. I also agree with your characterization of Lizzie. I'm not sure I used the work 'immature' in my review, but it is perfect for describing how Lizzie would justify her poor choices one after the other!

    1. Nice to heard others share my thoughts, so many loved it and I was wondering what I missed.

  2. I had a problem with Lizzie's immaturity too. I think in my review I described her as whiny. I could empathize some but then she just started to annoy me. Great review!

  3. I had a problem with Lizzie's immaturity too. I think in my review I described her as whiny. I could empathize some but then she just started to annoy me. Great review!