The Secrets of Lizzie Borden

Written by Brandy Purdy
Review by Sue Asher

In the summer of 1892, in a small Massachusetts city, a double murder was committed. Lizzie Borden remains morbidly fascinating more than a hundred years after she played a central role in the chilling crime. Lizzie Borden took an axe, Gave her mother forty whacks… Surely everyone (of my generation at least) can finish this gruesome rhyme. This lonely, unhappy young woman was almost certainly guilty of killing her father and stepmother. But why? In this engrossing, imaginative novel, Purdy allows Lizzie Borden to tell her own story. Lizzie suffered a stifling childhood with a miserly father, a manipulative older sister, a stepmother with whom she cannot form a bond, and a painful inability to fit in with her peers. Dreading a future of spinsterhood and penury, Lizzie is desperate for love and yearns for material indulgence. She’s not exactly a sympathetic character, this unrepentant axe-murderer, but it’s possible to understand how she could snap. In a wonderfully histrionic voice that makes the character believable even as she does things that are beyond belief, Lizzie spills her many secrets in this satisfying (if gory) account of her life before, during, and after the shattering event.