Apr 25, 2019

The Trial of Lizzie Borden by Cara Robertson Review

The Trial of Lizzie Borden
by Cara Robertson
Release Date: March 12th, 2019
Simon & Schuster
Source: ARC provided by the publisher

The Trial of Lizzie Borden tells the true story of one of the most sensational murder trials in American history. When Andrew and Abby Borden were brutally hacked to death in Fall River, Massachusetts, in August 1892, the arrest of the couple’s younger daughter Lizzie turned the case into international news and her trial into a spectacle unparalleled in American history. Reporters flocked to the scene. Well-known columnists took up conspicuous seats in the courtroom. The defendant was relentlessly scrutinized for signs of guilt or innocence. Everyone—rich and poor, suffragists and social conservatives, legal scholars and laypeople—had an opinion about Lizzie Borden’s guilt or innocence. Was she a cold-blooded murderess or an unjustly persecuted lady? Did she or didn’t she?

The popular fascination with the Borden murders and its central enigmatic character has endured for more than one hundred years. Immortalized in rhyme, told and retold in every conceivable genre, the murders have secured a place in the American pantheon of mythic horror, but one typically wrenched from its historical moment. In contrast, Cara Robertson explores the stories Lizzie Borden’s culture wanted and expected to hear and how those stories influenced the debate inside and outside of the courtroom. Based on transcripts of the Borden legal proceedings, contemporary newspaper accounts, unpublished local accounts, and recently unearthed letters from Lizzie herself, The Trial of Lizzie Borden offers a window onto America in the Gilded Age, showcasing its most deeply held convictions and its most troubling social anxieties.

*ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review*

I have always been a true crime junkie and that didn't change when I moved to America back in 2002. The first American true crime story I ever read about was the Borden Murders when I finished watching all of the crime tv and history channel shows, I was firm in my conviction that Lizzie was innocent and that was that. Fast forward to 2019 and back in February suddenly my Instagram was flooded with images of a book that I knew in a heartbeat I had to read...The Trial of Lizzie Borden. 

If you are unaware of the story, I will give you a brief run through. On August 4th, 1892 in Fall Rivers, Massachusetts there was the horrific murders of wealthy businessman Andrew Borden and his second wife Abby. The only ones in the house at the time of the attack was Andrew's youngest daughter Lizzie and the family maid Bridget, who was washing the outside windows. Lizzie Borden was accused of the murder of her father and stepmother and was held until her trial when she was later found not guilty. 

Cara Robertson started looking into the trial of Lizzie Borden as the subject for her Harvard undergraduate thesis. By using the trial transcripts, newspaper accounts and even recently discovered letters written by Borden herself, the author writes a compelling and detailed account, presenting the evidence as only a lawyer can, Without giving away her feelings, and leaving it to us the reader, as the modern-day jury to weigh the facts and to rule judgement. 

This book really forces you to use your brain and for a true crime junkie (as I am), this book is literal gold. I really enjoyed the clear cut timeline (minus the magical missing hour). And I have to say it was completely eye-opening because despite my many tv shows and podcasts I had watched and listened too, there were many details left out, from the poisoning, the arguments and the burglary, which was a complete eye opener! And really changed my viewpoint of the murder. 

I give The Trial of Lizzie Borden 5 stars 

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