Friday, August 11, 2017

See What I Have Done

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

     “Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks.  And when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.”  So goes the rhyme we all know about the sensational murder of her father, Andrew, and her step-mother Abby Borden.   Both had been killed with an axe.
     This story is told by four different people, Lizzie, her sister Emma, the housekeeper, Bridget, and Benjamin, a drifter hired by an uncle to do be what we would today call a hit man.   While these people are relating the events of the two days this story is set in, we see that just about everyone would not have minded if Andrew and Abby were dead.  Anyone could have done it or had reason.  
     In the beginning, because Lizzie opens the story, it is quite obvious she isn’t quite right in her head.  Her story is detached, a bit convoluted, wandering.  I thought as I read it that I was glad I wasn’t inside her head.  Almost immediately Lizzie is the prime suspect.  She was home, she bought an axe and she burned a dress and she was angry enough with her father to be wanting revenge, to teach him a lesson in the manner he deserved.  And there was that step-mother who could never live up to her deceased mother.   But then, Bridget, too, had cause and opportunity.  And there was Benjamin. 
     In the end, Lizzie is acquitted of the charges.  This isn’t a spoiler, it’s history.  And this was a very good re-imagining about what really happened that day Lizzie Borden took an axe.

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