Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lizzie: A Novel of Lizzie Borden by Evan Hunter

This novel by Evan Hunter a.k.a. Ed McBain tells the story of a little known event from the life of Lizzie Borden, her Grand Tour of Europe in 1890, two years before the axe murders of her father and stepmother that assured her place, to this day, in the annals of infamy, crime, and history.

Factual details about Lizzie's Grand Tour are scarce, so it is fertile ground for a novelist to weave a tale around. In this novel, Lizzie falls under the spell of a free-spirited English woman and lets her latent lesbian tendencies surface and blossom under this worldly and sophisticated woman's expert tutelage.

The story is told in alternating chapters that move back and forth between Lizzie's Grand Tour and dramatized but actual testimony from the murder trial in 1892-93 leading up to Lizzie's return to dull, dreary, prim, narrow-minded Fall River, Massachusetts after the excitement of Victorian London, Paris, and the Riviera, and, of course, her sexual awakening. The later chapters detail the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden and the motive for them, about which I will say nothing so as not to spoil it for anyone who might want to read the book. I personally felt that the insertion of the trial testimony, though interesting in its own right, disrupted the flow of the story, but that is merely my personal opinion.

For anyone interested in the Lizzie Borden case this fictional account will doubtless make interesting reading.

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