Author: Brandy Purdy
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction | Crime Fiction | Mystery
Edition: Ebook (mobi)
Goodreads Rating: 5/5
Blog Rating: 5/5
Buy it here: Amazon
In her enthralling, richly imagined new novel, Brandy Purdy, author of The Ripper’s Wife, creates a compelling portrait of the real, complex woman behind an unthinkable crime.
Lizzie Borden should be one of the most fortunate young women in Fall River, Massachusetts. Her wealthy father could easily afford to provide his daughters with fashionable clothes, travel, and a rich, cultured life. Instead, haunted by the ghost of childhood poverty, he forces Lizzie and her sister, Emma, to live frugally, denying them the simplest modern conveniences. Suitors and socializing are discouraged, as her father views all gentleman callers as fortune hunters. Lonely and deeply unhappy, Lizzie stifles her frustration, dreaming of the freedom that will come with her eventual inheritance. But soon, even that chance of future independence seems about to be ripped away. And on a stifling August day in 1892, Lizzie’s long-simmering anger finally explodes… Vividly written and thought-provoking, The Secrets of Lizzie Borden explores the fascinating events behind a crime that continues to grip the public imagination—a story of how thwarted desires and desperate rage could turn a dutiful daughter into a notorious killer.
This book is simply beyond words. All I can say is that I loved it and that Brandy Purdy is a BRILLIANT author. This is the first book that I’m reading by her, but it is most definitely not the last one. I loved her vivid imagination and the powerful writing which compelled me to forget all the facts and believe in the story that she crafted/weaved so artfully.
For a crime author like myself, this book is a piece of art in the most literal sense and I salute the author for pulling off this book on such a talked about crime. She recreated the entire life of Lizzie Borden in such detail that it’s crazily scary At more than a dozen places I actually wondered if the author really found some diary or a personal journal of Lizzie in her research for the book. It was that believable!
I wish this wasn’t a fictitious tale but an autobiography. It definitely felt like one. It seems like Lizzie is one of my old friends and that her deeds were totally justified. Not that I’m a sadist who likes to see people butchered, but I do believe that sometimes motive behind the crime does, in fact, justify it.
Coming back to the book, I did find it quite lengthy which is quite surprising given that I thoroughly enjoyed the book. But I feel that the reason behind it was the fact that the much-anticipated murders are committed just after the half-way point in the book (around 55%-60%) and, at that point, I was wondering what the hell is left now. But the author smartly told the tale after the murders were committed, which for me, later proved to be the highlight of the book.
Each and every fact I read about the Borden murders (in my obsessive research of course) was beautifully weaved into the story and made me believe that this tale is not just a fragment of someone’s imagination but the real tale itself. And how I wish it were true, because after reading this book I’ve found myself sympathizing with Lizzie more than a dozen times. My heart really ached for the lost soul that she was and I kept obsessively thinking about the would haves and the could haves for days after reading this book.
Sometimes, though, the writing seemed a little complex considering the lengthy sentences which sometimes stretched as long as one entire paragraph. Especially in the starting of the book. After the first quarter of the book either the sentences got better or I got used to them and didn’t notice them again. Other than this, the writing is superb and I managed to learn a few new words from this book (which is always a plus.)
Here’s the famous rhyme that would have definitely tortured Lizzie to no end:
Lizzie Borden took an ax
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.
You can read all about Lizzie Borden on Wikipedia here.
If you want to read about the details of her trial then visit these awesome links:
- Fourteen Reasons to Believe Lizzie Murdered Her Parents
- Testimony of Emma Borden in the Trial of Lizzie Borden (June 16, 1893)
- Sketched Maps and Diagrams
- Selected Newspaper Articles
Opening Line: I awoke from the dream, wishing, as I always did, that it would vanish right away without lingering to torment me, or, better yet, never come to visit me again.
Highlights: Well crafted story.
Sometimes it is easier to tell a lie. To say No closes the door on the conversation, whereas saying Yes flings it open wide and invites further inquiry and to slam and bar it then is to be branded rude and inhospitable.
I do not know; nor do I want to. I cherish my illusion, if illusion it was.
I won my freedom and baptized it in blood, with Death acting as midwife at the bloody birth that spawned my new life! In one blood-bathed day I was transfigured! I was set FREE! Free, rich, and orphaned all in the same bloody day.
I was sorry, and yet I wasn’t. I had done the right thing, even though it was wrong. If only things, if only we- all of us- had been different it might never have come to this. If only, if only, if only…
“If I were you, Lizzie, I wouldn’t have let anyone see me doing that. I’m afraid that burning that dress is the worst thing you could have done!” Besides killing your own parents of course! her chilly blue eyes silently finished the sentence.
If life were a theater play or a novel this is where my story would end- happily, in a spirit of jubilation, with me vindicated and set free.
But life is not like that.
How very ironic that all the world sees her as the very picture of the meek as a mouse prim and pious brittle and birdlike little maiden lady in eternal mourning too afraid to ever say Boo! to a goose. They don’t know the real Emma; no one does except me.
Sometimes the sadness still steals over me and I cry for what might have been. How different my life would have been! I would have been lost to history; there would have been no murders at 92 Second Street, no immortal singsong rhyme about forty whacks; no one would have even remembered my name after I died – I would have had a different name; he would have changed that, just like he changed my life.
All I wanted to do was forget. And I wanted everyone to forget too and just leave me in peace to live my life the way I saw fit. I don’t go prying into their business and private lives! Why couldn’t they accord me the same respect? But I had traded the prison of my father’s house for actual prison bars, only to find when I was vindicated and freed from those that I had become a prisoner of my own notoriety and a higher judge had decreed that it should be a life sentence with no possibility of parole. Ostensibly, I was free to come and go and do as I pleased, but I would never be truly free.
Final Thoughts: A brilliant Crime Mystery!