#BookReview: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

If you aren't in a bad mood, you will be if you start this!


See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt, Narrated by Erin Hunter, Garrick Hagon & Jennifer Woodward 
Audiobook Review, 9+ Hours
Released August 2017
Amazon ♦ Goodreads
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:

This is a fictionalized retelling of the Lizzie Borden murders and though it gets many “meh”reviews, I surprisingly enjoyed it very much. These people are awful! They are selfish, resentful, devious and maddening in their “woe is me” entitled thoughts but I LOVED reading about their misery. And, boy, did they all live in a cesspool of misery, resentment and hate.

I do think you have to be in a certain grumpy headspace to appreciate this one and I was there. We’ve had a never-ending winter and I hurt my back so bad I had to quit a much loved workout routine probably forever. Reading this when I did was perfect timing. We were all miserable together for a short time. So moral of this sad story? Don’t read this if you’re happy or want to be happy.

The story is told from three different points of view. Lizzie, Bridget the maid and a shady male character whose name I can’t recall right now. I listened to the audio which is narrated by three different people. The women do a fine job as does the male narrator EXCEPT when he attempts to do a female voice in a painful fake falsetto. Fortunately he’s mostly narrating the man part so the cringe level is tolerable.

Many people have an issue with the grit and grue factor in this book and I can understand that. This book is an experience. You can feel the cloying sickness permeating these people and for me that’s the mark of good writing but it’s almost enough to make one queasy and I have a strong stomach. There is an exceptional amount of blood everywhere but almost worse is the vomit and rumbling stomachs. These gross people have been eating rotten mutton broth for what seems like weeks on end! The maid suspects it’s bad but keeps adding more salt to disguise the reek of rotten meat. I’m guessing this was because poppa Borden was too much of a cheapskate to let food go to waste. But I wasn’t there so who knows.

Many people also have issues with the way the story was told and I get that too. It jumps around in time and can be quite confusing and the people telling the story seem quite confused themselves at times. The end of the book leaves a lot of questions unanswered but still I love reading about these people. I cannot explain exactly why. Their relationships are poisonous and mean but if you’re up for that maybe you’ll love it too!

Comments

  1. Alright, it's entirely possible I would count myself as having an issue with the grit, because whew, some of that is kind of gross. But on the other hand, if an author can gross you out that much, it really is a good thing lol!

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    1. The atmosphere was pretty stiflingly gross and I can see why people were turned off. You could almost smell the voided food . . .

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  2. I've been interested in this one--I think I could easily fit with the miserable/grumpy mindset, haha. I'm fine with gore and blood, but when it comes to *other things,* I have a bit of a case of emetophobia, so not sure about that one. :P Regardless of that, this sounds really interesting and I've actually my eye on it. I might have to give it a go anyway. Great review!

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    1. There is an awful lot of vomit in this one so you're best to steer clear!

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  3. I have this one and I think I started it but couldn't get into it at the time. I don't consider it a DNF because as obsessed as I am with Lizzie, it's just a matter of time before I give it another try. You've inspired me to think that maybe it isn't as bad as some of the reviews I've read. I still love the cover too.

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    1. I think I was in the right mood for it! You need to get grouchy :)

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  4. At least it was a book that fit your mood! ;D

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  5. Wow. What a great review. I've read many Lizzie Borden books and this is going on my list. I'll be sure to be grumpy when I read it. Sounds like its deep in emotional atmosphere and I'm always up for that.

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    1. It's deep in ugly family dynamics and being grumpy most definitely helps!

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  6. Whew! I've not read a book about the Lizzie Borden story fiction or non-fic so I'd be interested. But good to know that I'd have to be in just the right mindset.
    Great review!

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    1. Thanks, Sophia. You might be better off reading one of the non-fic's first to get a background on the story. This just throws you right in. There was also a tv movie (which spawned a series) starring Christina Ricci (who was far too beautiful for the role but did a great job). You can learn more about it here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3118958/

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  7. I've always been interested in the Borden story but I think I'll give it a miss if the characters are so horrible in this version!

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  8. Seems we are all interested in the Borden stories and that is a great review. I love dark books and this sounds like a good one.
    sherry @ fundinmental

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  9. Ha! I'm a mood reader too. Some happy books won't work if I'm miserable and vice versa.

    And if in doubt - add more salt! lol

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. :) Yep, this is why I'm so bad with ARC's. A book can work one week and be a dismal failure the next week. I really can't read to a certain time constraint.

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  10. I've tried some Lizzie Borden books, but I haven't had much luck with them. I'm glad this one worked for you!

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  11. This is a book that has been on my mental "maybe" list. I wasn't sure about it since reviews have been so mixed but I kind of think I would like it after reading your review. Glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. I think you really have to be in a certain mood (cranky) and know what you're getting into :)

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  12. I totally get it, sometimes if a story is well written, you can put up with any amount of disgusting characters. I also have a fondness for reading about unhappy people at times, but you're right, you do have to be in the right mood.

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    1. So true. I'm glad this one caught me at the perfect time!

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  13. I love grit and grue! especially if it is portrait by good writing! NOW I'm a very linear reader so I'm not sure how I would do with the jumping around in time! I get easy confused need no help in that regard :) LOL

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    1. I'm easily confused too, believe me! This one I could follow though but probably only because I've seen the movies, read the stories and all that. Some day I hope to tour the house.

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