Wednesday, 10 May 2017
See What I Have Done - Sarah Schmidt
When her father and step-mother 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.
This unforgettable debut makes you question the truth behind one of the great unsolved mysteries, as well as exploring power, violence and the harsh realities of being a woman in late nineteenth century America.
What I thought:
I had heard so much about "The Pear" and I couldn't wait to find out for myself just what everyone was raving about. It's based on true events that happened back in August 1892, when Andrew and Abby Borden were brutally murdered in their own home. Their daughter, Emma, and maid, Bridget, were both at home when the pair were hacked to death with an axe. Although Lizzie was arrested and tried for the murders, she was later released and the mystery of their killer remains unsolved. This book is the author's version of events.
The story is told by the four main characters, Lizzie, her sister Emma, Bridget the Irish maid, and Benjamin, a very troubled young man. They each recount the events as they saw them. The Borden household was devoid of warmth and affection, even the bond between the sisters was bound by Lizzie's control over Emma. Benjamin was a very sad character. His whole being breathed hatred, propelled by hurt and a childhood baptism of cruelty. Then there was Uncle John, whose very presence gave me the creeps. The book envelops an odd clutch of characters, creepy and at times quite wicked. Only Bridget, the maid, bore any semblance to normality. Sadly, these characters actually existed!
What really sets this book apart is the author's ability to recreate the whole aura of that moment in time. The stench, ignorance of personal hygiene, the tick tick of the clock, all adding to the atmosphere. My stomach heaved at each mention of the rancid mutton broth and then there were the pigeons - a shocking moment!
This book is gruesome and it's horrific. The fact that it's actually based on true events makes it all the more shocking. I think it's a book people will keep talking about. It's horrible, but it's awesome too, and makes for a really superb read - if you dare, read "The Pear"!