Lizzie Borden

Lizzie Borden

4.0 19
by Elizabeth Engstrom

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"Lizzie Borden took an axe . . ". Or did she? One hundred years ago, Andrew and Abby Borden were brutally murdered. Their youngest daughter Lizzie was arrested and tried for the killings and—shockingly to many—was found innocent.  See more details below


"Lizzie Borden took an axe . . ". Or did she? One hundred years ago, Andrew and Abby Borden were brutally murdered. Their youngest daughter Lizzie was arrested and tried for the killings and—shockingly to many—was found innocent.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Engstrom's fictional treatment of the famous Lizzie Borden murder case of 1892--in which Lizzie allegedly kills both her parents but is acquitted--every door in the Borden house in Fall River, Mass., is metaphorically locked, and each room holds the terrible secrets of its occupant. Emma, Lizzie's older sister, wracked by uncontrollable rages, periodically flees to New Bedford to assuage her surreptitious appetites for sex, drink and violence. Paterfamilias Andrew Borden, tyrannical and penurious in equal measure, loves nothing but money (which he hoards obsessively), concealing his sinful thoughts and acts from his obese second wife, Abby. Lizzie appears to be a serene young woman, but only because, in the author's view, she has repressed another self--angry and long denied, it burns to emerge. At first Engstrom ( Black Ambrosia ) skillfully and subtly builds a psychological plot, moving the reader inexorably toward the anticipated savage denouement. But the very same restraint and innuendo used to good effect in the novel's early portions ill serve the final bloodbath, which approaches anticlimax. Engstrom's supernatural solution to a crime so inimitably real is a cop-out. (Jan.)
Library Journal
On a hot, sultry, August day in 1892 Lizzie Borden allegedly took an axe and ``gave her mother 40 whacks.'' Using the meager historical knowledge on Borden, mostly gained from trial transcripts and newspaper articles, Engstrom ( When Darkness Loves Us , LJ 2/1/85) has woven a fascinating, fresh tale of a lonely, tormented, and frustrated young woman. As Engstrom probes for a motive in the murder, she examines Lizzie's psyche and her role in her dysfunctional family. Raised by an austere older sister and her emotionally grasping but parsimonious father, she ignores her overweight, foodaholic stepmother. Seeking comfort and a sense of self, she finds temporary solace in brief relationships with women. Her father's possessiveness and stinginess thwart all her bids for freedom. Engstrom's hints at multiple personalities and other mental disorders give this fast-paced book a new approach to the Lizzie Borden enigma. For large fiction collections.-- Joan Hinkemeyer, Engle wood P.L., Col.
A Guran
Once in a while a publisher does something right. Forge, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, Inc. (better known for its primarily SF and fantasy imprint, Tor,) has done something precisely correct by reissuing Elizabeth Engstrom's 1991 Lizzie Borden in a handsome trade paperback.

Engstrom takes the legendary mayhem of the Fall River murder mystery and turns it into a brilliantly dark revelation of human psychology. She skillfully reveals, chapter by chapter, the secrets of the deeply dysfunctional Borden family by adroitly switching the narrative's point of view from one member of the household to another. We see reality through each pair of disturbed eyes and spiral deeper and deeper into what becomes inevitable tragedy.

Within a well-drawn and accurate historical context, Engstrom imaginatively reinterprets the fetid Borden family though a "modern" psychological plot, explaining events and motivation in terms of individual psychoses and hidden sexuality. The author also allows the stench of real evil, perhaps even supernatural evil, to permeate her rationale. Her characters -- Lizzie, her sister Emma, their father Andrew and stepmother Abby -- aren't just lost in a mental miasma, but sick to their very souls.

Engstrom has proven time and again that she is a masterful and intelligent writer. Her convincing characterization and taut plotting combine to produce that atmosphere of fear that Lovecraft told us was the essence of horror. Impending violence weighs heavy in the air of Lizzie Borden, air heavy with the sweat of nightmares, the reek of blood, the stale perfume of secrets and despair. You seldom get a second chance in life -- even your reading life -- so take this one. Lizzie Borden is not to be missed.

Product Details

Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x (d)

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