Bloody. Madness. Unsolved. These are just a few of the words used to describe the gruesome murder of Abigail and Andrew Borden. The Borden murder is a case that has been a media sensation for centuries. Did Lizzie Borden kill her father and stepmother or is there more to the story?
If you’re not familiar with the Borden murder mystery, in 1892 a woman by the name of Lizzie Borden was tried and acquitted for the murders of her father, Andrew, and her stepmother, Abigail. It is said that her father was a miser and only provided the necessities for his family despite the family’s enormous wealth. It is also alleged that Lizzie and her father often got into verbal fights with one another. Many have stated that Lizzie was driven mental by her father’s unusual ways. Others said that there is a history of mental illness in the women of the Borden family and Lizzie’s madness was simply hereditary. Till this day, there have been millions of theories, theatre performances and movies about the unsolved murders.
Although it’s a tale that majority of the world has heard about, I only heard about Lizzie Borden’s story earlier this year and, being a thriller fanatic, jumped at the opportunity to review the novel Sweet Madness. Sweet Madness written by Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie is another – among many – adaption of the Borden murder but attempts to add its own twist to it by telling the story from the point of view of the Borden’s young Irish maid, Bridget Sullivan.
The authors weave together such a beautiful and ghastly novel that I finished the entire book in under 48 hours. Bridget Sullivan, being only seventeen and in a new country has a lot to learn. For starters, she’s the perfect example of having street smarts but not intelligence. She’s able to fend for herself and be the perfect housekeeper but is naïve and gullible at the same time. She easily becomes close friends with Lizzie and puts Lizzie’s feelings first in a handful of situations. Regardless of her imperfections, I enjoyed trailing behind her as I witnessed the States in a time where virtue was considered the highest currency. In nearly every page of the novel, Bridget is careful not to sully her name when she is out with her boyfriend, Liam. If she’s seen as a floozy, the community will shun her. The other characters in Sweet Madness are also very well-written and help to retell the Borden’s story in such a way that I felt like I knew them personally.
I think that the best part of this novel is that it is written in a very stylistic manner and the dialogue used by the characters, especially Andrew Borden, are profound without being orotund.
To say that the ending of Sweet Madness is anticlimactic would be an understatement. It seemed like both authors knew how they wanted to end the novel and who they wanted the killer to be but didn’t know how to go about delivering the murderer’s motive. I also didn’t like the fact that Bridget’s naivety didn’t yield worse results. Who knows, maybe that would have been too expected?
Still, this novel was an enjoyable read and gives a new perspective on what could have happened all those years ago.
Length: 224 pages
Source: ARC Copy
Publisher: Merit Press (September 15, 2015)
Genre: YA Historical Fiction, Mystery
Completed: October 2015