Monday, August 21, 2017

Review: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

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.

 Hardcover, 336 pages 
Published May 2nd 2017 by Tinder Press
**** 1/2

What a devilishly delightful, eerie atmospheric book, where the house feels like it is one of the characters.

Lizzie Borden took an ax… Yeah yeah we all know the song. But do we know the truth beyond a shadow of a doubt?

Not really and See What I Have Done recounts the infamous Lizzie Borden and the murder of her father Andrew and stepmother Abby. While there is shifting in time with each chapter as well as narrators (Lizzie, her sister Emma, the housekeeper Bridget and a stranger named Benjamin), it works here. In fact it works very well and I was impressed how the author kept my attention and where scenes overlapped it was great to read from the different perspectives, it gave such a broad picture of what was taking place. Did Lizzie Borden really commit these horrible crimes? We will never know the full truth but this book gives a great perspective.

See What I Have Done has garnered mixed reviews, for myself I enjoyed the writing prose I enjoyed the poetic (at times) retelling. Though the Borden's were a well respected family in the community behind closed doors they were a dysfunctional family, kinda creepy and I think the only sane one was Bridget.

I would have loved for the book to have ended with authors notes, to see the motivation behind the story, to know what was fact verse fiction and just some of the 'why' and 'how comes' that took place.

This is the authors debut and she did a great job here, I look forward to reading more, definitely a book I recommend but again only to those that would appreciate the writing style.

This book is part of my personal library - I ordered from bookdepository since I wanted the cover above. Here is the US cover, which is just as creepy.

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