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See What I Have Done Paperback – May 2, 2017
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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. Observer [A] seminal voice of the future... a dark, dense visceral ride that proves that this former librarian could be on course to become one of the breakout writers of the decade... Donna Tartt, make room Stylist Eerie and compelling, Sarah Schmidt breathes such life into the terrible, twisted tale of Lizzie Borden and her family, she makes it impossible to look away -- Paula Hawkins What a book - powerful, visceral and disturbing. I felt like one of the many flies on the walls of that unhappy, blood-drenched house -- Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of THE LAST ACT OF LOVE An outstanding debut. Enviably brilliant and memorable -- Hannah Beckerman Vivid, sultry and engrossing -- Carys Bray A twisty, visceral, highly original novel that grips you from start to finish. An exceptional and stunning debut -- Kate Hamer author of THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT See What I Have Done held me in its sweaty grasp to the very last pages... as deftly destabilising as the best of Margaret Atwood -- Patrick Gale I loved See What I Have Done. So ominous and creepily compelling. Utterly macabre, in a good way. It is a novel that is close in style and sensibility to Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle -- Sam Baker The Pool See What I Have Done is wonderful. Exquisitely-drawn characters, beautiful prose, a brilliant retelling of story. Every single sentence is perfect -- Emma Flint author of LITTLE DEATHS I am obsessed with this book. It chews you up and spits you out like one of the ripe pears in Lizzie's garden. Incredibly tense and claustrophobic, Home Sweet Home is turned on its head for the nightmarish Borden family in this amazingly accomplished tale of power, betrayal and revenge -- Stacey Bartlett Fabulous Magazine [An] exquisitely crafted and chilling re-imagining of the gruesome 1982 crimes Lady (Must-reads of 2017) Lizzie Borden and her axe have fascinated since 1892, and this incredible reimagining is one you'll never ever forget Heat A great historical novel that takes a real life crime as its starting point. See What I Have Done is a gripping family drama and a whodunnit about two unsolved murders... chilling and claustrophobic Stylist (Best books of 2017) Sarah Schmidt's reimagining of the fatal events in the Borden household is dignified and sensual, as though Henry James had decided to tell the tale Sunday Express Schmidt is especially good at the sweltering claustrophobia in which the Bordens lived. She is also great at portraying the pent-up frustration of the spinster Borden sisters Sunday Independent Schmidt's unusual combination of narrative suppression and splurge makes for a surprising, nastily effective debut Guardian Intense, unsettling and macabre Sunday Mirror She skilfully evokes the claustrophobic atmosphere of the household, conjuring up the rottenness of the family's relationships Sunday Times A claustrophobic, absolutely visceral novel that, like the walls of that unhappy house, leaves a stain long after the final page Red Magazine Breathlessly brilliant Heat A disquieting read... I loved it The Times This startlingly potent novel isn't so much a straightforward whodunit as a portrait of a dysfunctional household from which the emotionally arrested Lizzie emerges as the novel's most unsettling character Metro The narrative alternates between Lizzie, whose shimmering, mercurial streams of consciousness read like prose poetry... Schmidt writes with precision and flair about the oppressive boredom of domesticity, the twisted intensity of sisterly love and the forlorn dreams of leaving and of personal reinvention Emma and Lizzie share. A glittering, gory fever dream of a book, See What I Have Done is a remarkable debut. Irish Times
About the Author
Sarah Schmidt is a librarian from Melbourne. She became obsessed with the Borden story after coming across Lizzie's case by chance in a second-hand bookstore and her passionate research has even taken her to stay for several nights in the Borden house. Find out more on her website https://sarahschmidt.org/ and on Twitter @ikillnovel.
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Top customer reviews
Ms Schmidt’s debut novel fictionalises this infamous murder, and makes me wonder (yet again) who actually committed the murders. Lizzie Borden was tried and acquitted, and no-one was ever convicted of the murders.
Ms Schmidt sets the scene. A claustrophobic household, where doors are kept locked. A frugal household where food is cooked and reheated so that nothing is wasted. The usual inhabitants are Andrew and his second wife Abby Borden, Andrew’s adult daughters (from his first marriage) Emma and Lizzie and the family’s Irish maid Bridget. At the time of the murders, Emma is away from home.
Four different voices tell their stories in the novel: Lizzie, Emma, Bridget and a man named Benjamin who has been hired by Lizzie and Emma’s maternal uncle to take care of a problem for him. Lizzie and Emma tell of difficulties between them. Bridget tells of a lack of trust, of frugality, of food which surely contributes to sickness, of the challenges of being the only servant in a house where she is expected to do everything. Can we trust any of these voices?
‘All the spaces between an hour, between life and death, came towards me.’
Quite a few books have been written about these murders and I’ve read some of them. What’s different about this novel is that by telling the story from a number of different perspectives, Ms Schmidt makes it possible to imagine that others had motivation (and possibly opportunity) to commit the murders. But in my reading, this novel is less about the murders than it is about the middle-class household in which such murders could occur. Behind the blank windows and walls, Ms Schmidt describes a household full of tension, and petty (and sometimes not so petty) grievances. I can feel the heat, feel squeamish over the killing of Lizzie’s pigeons, and the pots of food on the stove. I can almost smell the blood after the murders. What I can’t do, though, is get inside Lizzie’s head. I’m afraid to try.
This is not a novel for the squeamish. It invites the reader to step back in time to August 1892 and consider possibilities.
This is probably one of the most well written books I will never, ever want to read again. I felt like an emotional wet rag the whole time I was reading this fictionalized story of the Lizzie Borden tragedy. I cannot even begin to imagine what it must have been like for Sarah Schmidt. This is powerful prose and Schmidt's writing talent is what makes the retelling of this gruesomeness a possibility for readers to endure.
You've heard that awful rhyme, we all have, but how many of us want to research what that whole tragedy was about? Certainly not I. Schmidt has told the story in a fictionalized version with factual information forming the basis for the narrative. Then she has built what might have happened through the eyes of three women and one man and come up with a story of what could have been going on inside this household. The Borden family was prominent and wealthy in Fall River, Massachusetts, but Mr. and Mrs. Borden did not seem to want to be socially active. I can't help but wonder if they were simply penny pinchers or if they might have had some idea of what Lizzie was really like. Perhaps it was a combination of the two. Abby Borden was the second wife of Andrew Borden but Emma and Lizzie never forgot their mother and Abby was not able to have the sisters grow to love her.
This is a debut novel and quite an impressive one. There were some small things that kept grabbing my attention and distracting me from the story, but my overall reaction was so strong that I simply can't be bothered to worry abut them. I will positively put Sarah Schmidt on my list of authors to watch out for in the future.
Most recent customer reviews
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.Read more
Who hasn't heard of Lizzie Borden? She took an ax and gave her mother 40 whacks!Read more
I found this story to be fascinating. After reading it, I went on Google and researched what happened.Read more