Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one
Or did she?
I'm not going to lie, I kept putting this one down. The opening chapter narrated by Lizzie was well-written with a nice hook, and then the second chapter narrated by her sister Emma threw me off. However, I limped through it, and then a few more chapters here and there, and then I couldn't put it down. This book was well-written and captivating, especially for a debut, and I would definitely recommend it.
In See What I Have Done, Schmidt takes on the daunting genre of historical fiction with her account of one of the most famous murder cases of all time—Lizzie Borden's father and step-mother are found bludgeoned to death at the Borden residence. Told from multiple perspectives, the reader goes inside the mind of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the Irish maid Bridget, and a mysterious stranger, Benjamin, who has ties to the family. This multiperspectivity works brilliantly and while I enjoyed Lizzie's chapters the most, the other perspectives were needed to balance out the story.
Schmidt juxtaposes the visual imagery of sickness—blood, vomit, rotting food—against the relationships of the family. This is more than fiction, it is a foray into the human psyche and a study of the most intimate kind of relationships.