Book Review | See What I Have Done – 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.

See What I Have Done

About The Borden Family

This book is based on true events that took place in Fall River, Massachusetts in 1892. Lizzie Borden was accused of murdering her father and stepmother in a brutal axe attack which took place in their own home. Lizzie was tried but then acquitted and over 100 years later there’s still speculation over who committed the murders. These days the very home the murders took place in has been turned in to a Bed & Breakfast / Museum. Tours are run daily to learn about the history of the house and there’s even ghost cams you can watch on the website! Check out the wikipedia page and the B&B website for more information on the family.

The Book

This one took me quite a while to get around to reading but I’m glad I got there eventually (Sorry – blame the very long TBR list!). It’s set mostly over a 3 day period – the day before, day of and day after the murders. It started off quite slow and a little confusing because of Lizzie’s narration. She seems confused as to what’s happening in reality and what’s going on in her head so it jumps around a little. It wasn’t until the last half of the book that I got in to it and really couldn’t put it down. Who did it?! Why would someone do it? How did someone get in and out of the house, or were they in it the whole time? So many questions! I really wish we knew the answer but I’m not sure we’re ever really going to find out! Reading this book has put Fall River and a trip to the Lizzie Borden house on my to do list when I move to the States though.

Thank you to Netgalley and Atlantic Monthly Press for letting me read and review this book. You can pick up a copy here and it’s well worth the read.

Love Roxy xx



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