Book Review: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

See What I Have Done…

Book Description:

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.


My Thoughts:

At once atmospheric and entirely engrossing, See What I Have Done is a novel I was hard pressed to put down. There was an authenticity to this story, a true sense of time and place, an overriding vein of human debasement running through the narrative that had me both enthralled and repelled at the same time. Sarah Schmidt’s writing commands the reader to use all of their senses, even when you’d really rather not!

The decadence of over-ripe pears set against the putrid mutton stew; those poor unfortunate pigeons; the decay of humans going rotten in their own skin. From the first page until the last, I was trapped in this gothic nightmare, held spellbound by its awful truth.

This is Historical Crime fiction at its best, a perfect balance of fact and fiction, artfully rendered and beautifully unique.


See What I Have Done is book 18 of my 2017 Australian Women Writers Challenge.