See what I have done

Sarah Schmidt, 1979 September 10-

Book - 2017

When her father and stepmother are found brutally murdered on a summer morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden - thirty-two years old and still living at home - immediately becomes a suspect. But after a notorious trial, she is found innocent, and no one is ever convicted of the crime. Meanwhile, others in the claustrophobic Borden household have their own motives and their own stories to tell: Lizzie's unmarried older sister, a put-upon Irish housemaid, and a boy hired by Lizzie's uncle to take care of a problem.

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Psychological fiction
Mystery fiction
Historical fiction
Detective and mystery fiction
New York, NY : Atlantic Monthly Press, an imprint of Grove Atlantic 2017.
Main Author
Sarah Schmidt, 1979 September 10- (author)
First Grove Atlantic hardcover edition
Item Description
"First published in Australia and New Zealand in 2017 by Hachette Australia"--Title page verso.
Physical Description
328 pages ; 24 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by New York Times Review

BLACK DETROIT: A People's History of Self-Determination, by Herb Boyd. (Amistad/HarperCollins, $16.99.) Boyd weaves the lives of standout African-American figures into this history of the city, tracing its evolution from a French trading post to a symbol of decline. From the country's first black auto dealer to Michigan's first black obstetrician, characters who might have otherwise remained on history's sidelines are the heart of Boyd's history. GOODBYE, VITAMIN, by Rachel Khong. (Picador, $16.) In the wake of a breakup, Ruth - 30, adrift and heartbroken - returns home to care for her father, who is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. The novel takes the form of Ruth's diary over that year, resulting in a poignant and even darkly comic exploration of adulthood, relationships and memory. THE WRITTEN WORLD: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, and Civilization, by Martin Puchner. (Random House, $20.) Puchner, an English professor at Harvard, makes the case for literature's all-importance to societies and the shape of humanity's history. His research has taken him to every continent, in the search for sacred and foundational texts, and spans centuries, from Mesopotamia to Cervantes to Harry Potter. SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE, by Sarah Schmidt. (Grove, $16.) Schmidt revisits the unsolved Fall River murders at the center of Lizzie Borden's life: In Massachusetts in 1892, Lizzie's father and stepmother were hacked to death. Schmidt imagines the lead-up to the grisly crime, and Lizzie's possible madness. Our reviewer, Patrick McGrath, called the novel "a lurid and original work of horror," which evokes "the disintegrating character of this sweltering, unhygienic and claustrophobic household of locked doors and repressed emotions." HUNGER: A Memoir of (My) Body, by Roxane Gay. (Harper Perennial, $16.99.) Reflecting on her life through the lens of her body, Gay engages with questions about desire, nourishment and protection. As Carina Chocano wrote here, the memoir reads like Gay's "victorious, if not frictionless, journey back to herself, back into her body, from the splitting off of trauma. Is the responsibility for her body really hers alone?" THE MISFORTUNE OF MARION PALM, by Emily Culliton (Vintage, $15.95.) In this debut novel, a Brooklyn mother has embezzled a modest amount from her children's private school. When it faces an audit, she leaves her family behind and goes on the lam. As she tries to carve out a new place in the world, Marion turns out to be a delightful antiheroine and defies expectation at every turn.

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [August 30, 2019]
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Schmidt's unforgettable debut brings a legendary American crime to eerie new life. Four narrators recount events surrounding the 1892 murders of Andrew and Abby Borden: Lizzie Borden; her older sister, Emma; and the family's maid, Bridget Sullivan, are within the Massachusetts home in which the deaths occurred. The fourth, a young man known only as Benjamin, is a stranger to everyone in the family but the sisters' maternal uncle, who is visiting at the time of the tragedy. Though their interpretations of events differ, all describe roiling tensions. The manipulative, nearly feral Lizzie is forever scarred by her mother's early death, while Emma longs for an artistic life uncomplicated by her sister's outsized presence. Their relationship with their father and stepmother is fractured: Andrew Borden is a miserly, abusive man who thinks nothing of beheading the pet pigeons Lizzie loves, and his second wife, Abby, has never gained her stepdaughters' trust. On August 4, family conflicts erupt in a chain of events that is as intricate as it is violent. Equally compelling as a whodunit, "whydunit," and historical novel, the book honors known facts yet fearlessly claims its own striking vision. Even before the murders, the Bordens' cruel, claustrophobic lives are not easy to visit, but from them Schmidt has crafted a profoundly vivid and convincing fictional world. Agent: Dan Lazar, Writers House. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

DEBUT In this novel from Australian newcomer Schmidt, we are taken inside the delusional mind of accused 19th-century ax murderer Lizzie Borden and also witness the churning interior monologs of her older sister, Emma, and the Bordens' hapless Irish maid, Bridget. We get to inhabit another character as well: a potential hit man named Benjamin, lured in by the sisters' nefarious Uncle John. Schmidt employs some unusual word choices-animals "critter" instead of walk, lamplight "rages." Not surprisingly, the prose is rife with a creepy physicality, its imagery dwelling on skin, blood, fingernails, smells, etc., although readers are spared much of the actual crime's gruesomeness. The heated narrative contributes to the sense of simmering craziness permeating the Borden household. A historical time line of actual events is appended. What better subject for a psychological thriller than one of the most notorious murders in U.S. history, and the mysterious Benjamin adds color and suspense to what might otherwise be a well-worn tale. VERDICT A fresh treatment of Lizzie Borden, highly recommended for mystery and true crime fans and others who like smart, edgy works.-Reba Leiding, emeritus, James Madison Univ. Lib., Harrisonburg, VA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A fictional reimagining of real-life murders so infamous they earned its alleged perpetrator her own playground rhyme and ax-wielders everywhere a catchy chopping song, even if the killer's guilt was never firmly established.On Aug. 4, 1892, in Fall River, Massachusetts, Andrew Borden and his second wife, Abby, were found butchered in their home, the weapon thought to be an ax, though police never found it. In a dazzling debut novel that is as unsettling as the summer heat that permeates the crime scene, Schmidt alternates the first-person narration among sisters Lizzie and Emma Borden; Bridget, the family's maid; and a mysterious man named Benjamin, whose role doesn't come into focus so much as congeal like drying blood. Tempestuous Lizzie still lives at home with her father and stepmother, whom she calls "Mrs. Borden"; their relationship is strained at best. Older sister Emma, much to Lizzie's dismay, has left Fall River to stay with a friend for a while; the symbiotic relationship between the sisters and their teetering feelings of intense love and loathing fuel much of the novel's emotional fire. Bridget, who sees everything and is seething that Mrs. Borden recently confiscated her savings, is eager to get out of the houseand Schmidt creates such a palpable sense of unease that the reader is, too. Benjamin, a passing acquaintance of the girls' uncle, burns with rage; Schmidt is careful not to lay blame for the murders directly at his feet, though his presence is vital. It's a gamble to focus almost entirely on the day leading up to the murders and the actual day of the crime rather than widening the scope to include Lizzie's well-known trial and eventual acquittal, but it's one that pays off for Schmidt, creating an unusually intimate portrait. There are books about murder and there are books about imploding families; this is the rare novel that seamlessly weaves the two together, asking as many questions as it answers. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

ONE LIZZIE August 4, 1892 HE WAS STILL bleeding. I yelled, "Someone's killed Father." I breathed in kerosene air, licked the thickness from my teeth. The clock on the mantel ticked ticked. I looked at Father, the way hands clutched to thighs, the way the little gold ring on his pinkie finger sat like a sun. I gave him that ring for his birthday when I no longer wanted it. "Daddy," I had said, "I'm giving this to you because I love you." He had smiled and kissed my forehead. A long time ago now. I looked at Father. I touched his bleeding hand, how long does it take for a body to become cold? and leaned closer to his face, tried to make eye contact, waited to see if he might blink, might recognize me. I wiped my hand across my mouth, tasted blood. My heart beat nightmares, gallop, gallop, as I looked at Father again, watched blood river down his neck and disappear into suit cloth. The clock on the mantel ticked ticked. I walked out of the room, closed the door behind me and made my way to the back stairs, shouted once more to Bridget, "Quickly. Someone's killed Father." I wiped my hand across my mouth, licked my teeth. Bridget came down, brought with her the smell of decayed meaty-meat. "Miss Lizzie, what . . ." "He's in the sitting room." I pointed through thick, wallpapered walls. "Who is?" Bridget's face, prickly with confusion. "I thought he looked hurt but I wasn't sure how badly until I got close," I said. Summer heat ran up my neck like a knife. My hands ached. "Miss Lizzie, yer scarin' me." "Father's in the sitting room." It was difficult to say anything else. Bridget ran from the back stairs through the kitchen and I followed her. She ran to the sitting room door, put her hand on the door knob, turn it, turn it. "His face has been cut." There was a part of me that wanted to push Bridget into the room, make her see what I had found. Excerpted from See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.