Culture Street

By Sophia Whitfield

“Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother 40 whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41.”

See What I Have Done is based on the true story of Lizzie Borden. Set in 1892 in Fall River, Massachusetts, the novel opens when Lizzie Borden discovers her father murdered and alerts the maid. When the police arrive they also find the body of Andrew Borden’s wife Abby Borden, step-mother to Lizzie and her older sister Emma.

The novel is narrated from the point of view of Lizzie, her sister Emma, the maid Bridget and Benjamin, a stranger who has a dubious connection to the sister’s uncle John.

The local community have much to talk about. Who would want to murder wealthy couple Andrew and Abby Borden? But Andrew Borden was miserly towards his two daughters and Lizzie, whose mother died when she was very young, hated Abby.

Schmidt’s visceral retelling of the events surrounding the death of the Andrew and Abby Borden reveals a family grappling with a fractured love that had splintered into hate.

A powerful debut that depicts the unsettling unease that shadows a family after a brutal crime is committed. You can buy the book here in Australia and here in the UK.

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