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Review: The Secrets of Lizzie Borden by Brandy Purdy

02_The Secrets of Lizzie Borden

About The Secrets of Lizzie Borden

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.


My Review

Obviously the Borden household had serious issues, our imagination runs wild with speculation.

Lizzie Borden came across as sad, lonely, oppressed and disturbed. Despite Purdy’s portrayal I felt no empathy towards this creature. Borden is so enigmatic any and all assumptions leave you wondering, nothing can be ruled out and we’ll never know what led up to the brutal murders. Purdy’s take on Borden was interesting and edgy.

Even though Borden was acquitted, she was found guilty by popular opinion. Her name forever associated with unthinkable violence and not in a kind way. No doubt her life was even more of a challenge post trial.

I was expecting something different in the depiction, needless to say Purdy’s version was a surprise. I would have preferred less of an erotic approach and delved deeper into Lizzie Borden, her low self-esteem, the abuse suffered from her father, her mental state. Also I felt Lizzie came across as immature and naive for her years, yes, she was a rather sheltered young lady with virtually no friends or understanding of life’s machinations especially given the time period when life was harsh for women. Her acute loneliness and quest for love, weighty pocketbook made her easy prey, never fully able to escape her haunting past.

Loved the ending, adds even more mystique to Lizzie and the murders.

Interesting read of one of the world’s most notorious, mysterious and enigmatic women, Lizzie Borden.

About Brandy Purdy

Brandy Purdy (Emily Purdy in the UK) is the author of the historical novels THE CONFESSION OF PIERS GAVESTON, THE BOLEYN WIFE (THE TUDOR WIFE), THE TUDOR THRONE (MARY & ELIZABETH), THE QUEEN’S PLEASURE (A COURT AFFAIR), THE QUEEN’S RIVALS (THE FALLEN QUEEN), THE BOLEYN BRIDE, and THE RIPPER’S WIFE. An ardent book lover since early childhood, she first became interested in history at the age of nine or ten years old when she read a book of ghost stories which contained a chapter about Anne Boleyn haunting the Tower of London. Visit her website at www.brandypurdy.com, you can also follow her on Facebook as Brandy Purdy aka Emily Purdy.

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Publication Date: January 26, 2016 Kensington Books

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1 Comment

  1. Oooh… this sounds fascinating! Thanks!


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