See What I Have Done
A NovelBook - 2017
And gave her mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.
Or did she?
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.
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"I was thinking of the winter, wondering when Mrs Borden would come home from visiting her relative, wondering how soon I could leave the house, go back to my family, go back to best feelings, when I heard a chock, chock sound come from the bottom of the house. I thought of Mr Borden and the pigeons. Chock. There was no bird sound. Chock. My heart got to beating fast and I gripped onto my bed, turned to look at my family. Chock, chock. A sound of grunting, like an animal eating. Chock.
Where was that coming from? Chock, chock.
A horse cart rolled down the street. Chock, the air was still, chock, the city bells struck, and was much too loud. I gripped onto my bed, couldn't move, couldn't breath, couldn't think. My bladder felt like bursting. The house went quiet. For a moment I wondered if I was in a dream. I didn't want to open my door, didn't want to go downstairs, didn't want to know what was down there.
Then I heard Lizzie call out, 'Bridget!' "
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