My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a work of fiction about a real life event. It is about the brutal murders of Andrew and Abby Borden in Fall River, Massachusetts. Taking her cues from the actual crime timeline, Schmidt weaves a story creating a possible scenario about the events in 1892.
We are told the story from four points of view. Lizzie, whose memories are scattered, jagged and unreliable. Her older sister Emma who seems to surrender to her sister on anything of importance, Bridget, the servant who gives shaky testimony because she is so afraid and a stranger to the whole event, Benjamin, who drifts into the Borden sisters lives at the time of the murder and then years later.
This book is a strange mix of truth and creativity. Sometimes the writing is a confusing mix of madness, but that might just be the writing style used to convey the confusion of the story itself. It is like looking through a keyhole to a mystery and imagining all the possibilities. Going back and forth in time can make it difficult to keep track of everything at times.
Schmidt has written a book that swirls with vividness and assaults the senses. Language twists and turns, creating a storm, making it easy to lose your equilibrium. But in the end there was something so off kilter it threw the whole novel off balance. Some of the possibilities created by Schmidt left me disagreeing vehemently. For someone who knows nothing about this event in history, it wont leave you any clearer about the events that took place and parts of the events were covered in a perfunctory manner and others were overly laboured.
This is sure to be a hit because of the actual topic but it remains to be seen if it has longevity.