Grove Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

See What I Have Done

by Sarah Schmidt

Praised by Paula Hawkins as the “next great thriller” (Town & Country), Sarah Schmidt’s debut is a masterful reimagining of the infamous Lizzie Borden story and an unsettling portrait of a troubled family.

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 352
  • Publication Date June 12, 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2813-3
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $16.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 336
  • Publication Date August 01, 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2659-7
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $26.00

About The Book

Lizzie Borden took an ax
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

Or did she?

In this riveting debut novel, See What I Have Done—which is already gaining outstanding acclaim—Sarah Schmidt recasts one of the most fascinating murder cases of all time into an intimate story of a volatile household and a family devoid of love.

On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to her maid: Someone’s killed Father. The brutal ax-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, leaves little evidence and many unanswered questions. While neighbors struggle to understand why anyone would want to harm the respected Bordens, those close to the family have a different tale to tell–of a father with an explosive temper; a spiteful stepmother; and two spinster sisters, with a bond even stronger than blood, desperate for their independence.

As the police search for clues, Emma comforts an increasingly distraught Lizzie whose memories of that morning flash in scattered fragments. Had she been in the barn or the pear arbor to escape the stifling heat of the house? When did she last speak to her stepmother? Were they really gone and would everything be better now? Shifting among the perspectives of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, and the enigmatic stranger Benjamin, the events of that fateful day are slowly revealed through a high-wire feat of storytelling.


“Schmidt delves into the Lizzie Borden story, which may or may not have unfolded as we’ve always thought.” —Entertainment Weekly, one of the 23 Most Anticipated Books of 2017

“[A] gory and gripping debut.” —Guardian

“This novel is like a crazy murdery fever dream, swirling around the day of the murders. Schmidt has written not just a tale of a crime, but a novel of the senses. There is hardly a sentence that goes by without mention of some sensation, whether it’s a smell or a sound or a taste, and it is this complete saturation of the senses that enables the novel to soak into your brain and envelope you in creepy uncomfortableness. It’s a fabulous, unsettling book.” —Book Riot

“Eerie and compelling, Sarah Schmidt breathes such life into the terrible, twisted tale of Lizzie Borden and her family, she makes it impossible to look away.” —Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train

“Sarah Schmidt’s beautifully wrought See What I Have Done is a compelling, psychologically rich take on a well-loved tale, bringing new insight into the myth of just who Lizzie Borden was. This glorious gothic novel brings to mind the work of Sarah Waters and Patrick McGrath.” —Sabina Murray, author of Valiant Gentlemen

“Haunting, evocative and psychologically taut, See What I Have Done breathes fresh life into the infamous 19th-century murder case surrounding Lizzie Borden. This is a powerful, beautifully researched debut novel that brings us into contact with the recurring American dramas of violence and retribution while summoning the beguiling voices of the past.” —Dominic Smith, author of the New York Times bestseller The Last Painting of Sara de Vos


I walked back inside, refilled the bucket with warm water. Back on my hands and knees I cleaned the wall behind the sofa, noticed hair-fine cracks along the skirting board and tried not to think about Father, but he was all around me. I scrubbed harder knowing that behind the wall, Father and Abby’s bodies were rigid from disbelief. The heat trapped in the room began to circulate and ran across my fingers. I wiped them on my dress, afraid of what the air was carrying.

A strange wind howl whipped from the floral carpet; a lost child, frightened animal, a haunting. I scrubbed, my throat tight and sore, a strangulation, and the howl came again, so loud it filled my ears, stung my eyes, shocked the hair on my arms into tiny needles. The howl. The howl was me. How had I forgotten what grief would sound like? I was no stranger to it.

Then there was movement along the ceiling and a door opened.

On the top of the stairs Lizzie sighed and cleared her throat before walking down and I dragged my head toward my sister: arms folded across her chest, head tilted to the side.

“Emma, don’t cry.” Lizzie cooed, took a step closer. I pulled back, Lizzie looked at the dining room door. Her fingers twitched, mouth opened and she stared at the mess in front of us. The basin of blood hummed. Watching Lizzie, my strange, strange sister, she became a shadow, a shape not quite alive but full of movement nonetheless. I could smell the secrets on her, that mushroom scent.