Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Borden Murders by Sarah Miller

  • THE BOOK
    • The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century by Sarah Miller
    • Published January 12, 2016
    • Other works by the author: Miss Spitfire (about Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller's teacher) and The Lost Crown (about the 4 daughters of Czar Nicholas II). She has an upcoming work on the Dionne Quintuplets due in 2018.

  • THE PREMISE
    • The trial of the 19th Century has to be the Lizzie Borden case. She was accused (and acquitted) of murdering her father and stepmother with an axe. 
    • "Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother 40 whacks. When she saw what she had done she gave her father 41." I knew this bit of doggerel from the schoolyard and it was a few years before I knew anything more about the real case. 
      • When I was a kid in 1975 there was a TV movie starring Elizabeth Montgomery (whom I adored; she died too soon) called "The Legend of Lizzie Borden". I am almost positive that this is where I learned about the crime. It included a shocking possibility: that Lizzie might have committed the crimes while NAKED. (Remember, this was a TV movie in 1975!) That's how she avoided getting blood all over herself.
      • As the author points out, almost everything about the poem is wrong. It was a hatchet, not an axe (yes, most of us wouldn't know the difference between an axe or a hatchet but people in the 1890s would have). It wasn't her mother but her stepmother and she got 18 or 19 whacks while the father got 11. And it may or may not have been Lizzie who did it.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • Interestingly, this particular book is aimed at the middle school age market! It is pretty thorough in the details and is not written in a juvenile way so adults will enjoy it too. (Sadly, in our world, worse things happen on the TV news and in video games so kids of today won't be shocked overall.)
    • Interesting that the "crime of the century" took place in the 1890s while our generation's "crime of the century" (O.J. Simpson) took place in the 1990s and both ended in acquittals.
    • Recommended for fans of true crime books.
    • I think I will read the author's other books too. I played a little blind girl in my high school's production of "The Miracle Worker" (I had ONE line early on in the play but I made some of the costumes!) so I have always been interested in Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller. And the Romanov dynasty is one of my favorite historical subjects. 

1 comment:

  1. For a more humorous account, please listen to "Lizzie Borden" by the Chad Mitchell Trio. They get the hatchet right, but not the step mom.

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