A deeply atmospheric novel by a startling new Aussie talent; an incredibly unique look inside the mind of Lizzie Borden, famously accused of murdering her father and stepmother in 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 pinky 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.'
On 4 August 1892 Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts. During the inquest into the deaths, Lizzie Borden was arrested and charged with the murder of her father and her stepmother.
Through the eyes of Lizzie's sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, the enigmatic stranger Benjamin and the beguiling Lizzie herself, we return to what happened that day in Fall River.
Lizzie Borden took an axe. Or did she?
Review by Sarah McDuling
See What I Have Done by debut author Sarah Schmidt is a lyrical and richly imagined novel about the infamous (alleged) axe murderer Lizzie Borden.
For anyone unfamiliar with the case, in 1892 Lizzie Borden was tried and later acquitted of the double homicide of her father and stepmother, who were found brutally hacked to death in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts. Though the jury found Lizzie innocent of the crimes, she was widely believed guilty and the murders remain unsolved to this day. The case was so notorious that it inspired a macabre nursery rhyme... Lizzie Borden took an axe / And gave her mother forty whacks / When she saw what she had done / She gave her father forty-one.
Scared yet? (You should be.)
See What I Have Done is both utterly absorbing and incredibly unsettling - not to mention super-duper creepy! There is a suffocating, almost claustrophobic atmosphere in the way Schmidt writes about the Borden household. This is a horrific tale about a highly dysfunctional family in which close familial bonds have become warped and strangling.
The descriptions of sounds and smells are so evocative that the Borden house is truly brought to life. The story is largely centred around the day before, and the day of the murders - told through alternating perspectives. We have Lizzie's fractured and unreliable narration, as well as the perspective of her devoted older sister Emma, the beleaguered maid Bridget, and the hired brute, Benjamin.
Reading this book is like entering a wild, feverish nightmare. In fact, it made such a deep impression on me that as soon as I finished it I was compelled to hit Google with a vengeance, determined to find out everything I could about Lizzie Borden.
See What I Have Done is incredibly enthralling, overwhelmingly intense and eerie as hell. Readers beware, this book will haunt you!
About the Author
After completing a Bachelor of Arts (Professional writing and editing), a Master of Arts (Creative Writing), and a Graduate Diploma of Information Management, Sarah currently works as a Reading & Literacy Coordinator (read: a fancy librarian) at a regional public library. She lives in Melbourne with her partner and daughter. See What I Have Done is her first novel.
Schmidt's writing is rich and confident, painting a vivid portrait of a household with something rotten at its core. It's a strong debut that promises much from an original and compelling new voice in Australian literature. - The Guardian
Schmidt is a consummate storyteller whose account of the Borden murders is utterly compelling. - Australian Book ReviewSee What I Have Done
is a meticulously researched and boldly imagined book that crackles with tension throughout. Schmidt's portrayal of Lizzie is haunting and complex, a deeply psychological portrait that forces the reader to question their preconceptions about what women are capable of - for better and worse. Both disturbing and gripping, it is an outstanding debut novel about love, death and the lifelong repercussions of unresolved grief. - The Observer
Compelling and incredibly haunting - Australian Women's Weekly
Believe the hype around this Australian authors debut novel. - Marie Clairea grand gothic novel
- Books + Publishing
For the originality of its voice and the power of its language and imagery, See What I Have Done
deserves to be considered a Gothic classic - THE SATURDAY PAPER
Melbourne-based author Sarah Schmidt's first novel was 10 years in the making and it's a cracker - GUARDIAN AUSTRALIA