Friday, 11 August 2017

Book Review: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to her maid: Someone's killed Father. The brutal axe-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 very 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. 

I have been fascinated with the Borden murders for some time. I can't really remember what sparked my interest, but I've since watched countless documentaries and dramatizations; and read so many different accounts of the family. It's been a while since anything new came out about the Borden family though, so when I saw See What I Have Done, by Sarah Schmidt, in Waterstones I knew I had to grab it.

See What I Have Done was an interesting re-telling of the Borden murders. I'd love to know more about the research Sarah did during the writing of this novel as there were elements of the story that were completely new to me; such as the inclusion of Benjamin. But it's important to remember that, crucially, See What I Have Done is a fiction novel. And a fantastic one at that. The quotes on the front cover say it all really; this is a very powerful read, gory and gripping. I couldn't put this book down, and read it from cover-to-cover in just a day, or two, tops. 

Even if you have no interest in the Borden family, or don't know who they are, I'm sure that you'll enjoy this novel anyway. Especially if you're a fan of the crime fiction/thriller genre. Because honestly? I loved it! 

Rating: ****

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