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City Reads: See What I Have Done

December 21, 2017

Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks…  You might recognize that phrase from an old folk rhyme based on Lizzie Borden and the 1892 ax murders of her father and stepmother. I’ve heard about Lizzie Borden before, but I didn’t know much about her other than you can actually sleep over her family house where the murders had happened. Creepy, I know! That’s why I decided to read more about her then in “See What I Have Done,” a new historical fiction novel by Sarah Schmidt. 


See What I Have Done brings to life on what might have happened in the Borden residence during 1892. Of course (spoiler alert), we know that Lizzie was acquitted from her trail and the murders remain unsolved 100+ years later. This isn’t the first book that covers this mystery. Schmidt decides to use that advantage to wrap our heads around on how the Bordens were quite a dysfunctional family.

We start off with Lizzie discovering her dead father on the sofa told in the maid Bridget’s POV. The novel follows various POVs including Lizzie’s sister, Lizzie herself and a mysterious man named Benjamin. It’s an interesting concept, although I felt confused at times when reading. I feel they were a bit too many characters involved and the two Borden sisters could have sufficed.

Not to mention, the time jumps going back and forth that made me lose track of the timeline. Some moments made me intrigued… and then I felt lost again when a time jump occurred. The great writing made the novel realistic, but the concept fell short to me for someone unfamiliar with the original story. For those new to Lizzie Borden’s story, it might be best to read or watch something else to gain more knowledge about the backstory before picking up to read “See What I Have Done.”

 Favorite Quotes

  • “How far a woman could travel if she really put her mind to it. And I put my mind to it.”
  • “Watching Lizzie, my strange, strange sister, she became a shadow.”
  • “Every adult who had ever held me as a baby was dead and no one would ever carry me again.”
  • “Night carved out the moon. Things became quiet.”
  • “Everyone always chooses the wrong sister.”

What to Read Next

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: In World War II Germany, a girl named Liesel steals books and shares them with others including the Jewish refugee protected by her adoptive parents.
  • The Other Boylen Girl by Philippa Gregory: Two sisters fight for the affection for Henry VIII.
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: Set during the American Civil War era, a woman and man get caught up in a complicated romance.

City Reads is a monthly series on Lost & Found in the City. Got any recommendations for next month’s book? Share your favorites in the comments below! 

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Author: Katina Beniaris

Born in Chicago, Katina has always been drawn to cities. She spent her college years in the heart of Chicago studying journalism and she travels to various cities every year for new experiences. When she’s not blogging, you can find her catching up on the latest pop culture sensation on Netflix.

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