Lizzie Borden took an ax
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 tellof 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.
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Sarah Schmidt works as a reading and literacy coordinator at a regional public library. See What I Have Done is her first novel. She lives in Melbourne, Australia.
Read an Excerpt
August 4, 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 pinkie 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.
I looked at Father. I touched his bleeding hand, how long does it take for a body to become cold? and leaned closer to his face, tried to make eye contact, waited to see if he might blink, might recognize me. I wiped my hand across my mouth, tasted blood. My heart beat nightmares, gallop, gallop, as I looked at Father again, watched blood river down his neck and disappear into suit cloth. The clock on the mantel ticked ticked. I walked out of the room, closed the door behind me and made my way to the back stairs, shouted once more to Bridget, “Quickly. Someone’s killed Father.” I wiped my hand across my mouth, licked my teeth.
Bridget came down, brought with her the smell of decayed meaty-meat. “Miss Lizzie, what . . .”
“He’s in the sitting room.” I pointed through thick, wallpapered walls.
“Who is?” Bridget’s face, prickly with confusion.
“I thought he looked hurt but I wasn’t sure how badly until I got close,” I said. Summer heat ran up my neck like a knife. My hands ached.
“Miss Lizzie, yer scarin’ me.”
“Father’s in the sitting room.” It was difficult to say anything else. Bridget ran from the back stairs through the kitchen and I followed her. She ran to the sitting room door, put her hand on the door knob, turn it, turn it.
“His face has been cut.” There was a part of me that wanted to push Bridget into the room, make her see what I had found.
Table of Contents
Fall River timeline,
Last will and testament excerpts,