The Secrets of Lizzie Borden Blog Tour and Review

02_The Secrets of Lizzie Borden
The Secrets of Lizzie Borden by Brandy Purdy
Publication Date: January 26, 2016 
Publisher:Kensington Books
 eBook & Print; 384 Pages 
 Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review

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In her enthralling, richly imagined new novel, Brandy Purdy, author of The Ripper’s Wife, creates a compelling portrait of the real, complex woman behind an unthinkable crime.

Lizzie Borden should be one of the most fortunate young women in Fall River, Massachusetts. Her wealthy father could easily afford to provide his daughters with fashionable clothes, travel, and a rich, cultured life. Instead, haunted by the ghost of childhood poverty, he forces Lizzie and her sister, Emma, to live frugally, denying them the simplest modern conveniences. Suitors and socializing are discouraged, as her father views all gentleman callers as fortune hunters.

Lonely and deeply unhappy, Lizzie stifles her frustration, dreaming of the freedom that will come with her eventual inheritance. But soon, even that chance of future independence seems about to be ripped away. And on a stifling August day in 1892, Lizzie’s long-simmering anger finally explodes…

Vividly written and thought-provoking, The Secrets of Lizzie Borden explores the fascinating events behind a crime that continues to grip the public imagination—a story of how thwarted desires and desperate rage could turn a dutiful daughter into a notorious killer.


My Take:

I think pretty much everyone in the United States, if not the world, is at least somewhat familiar with the Lizzie Borden story - the horrific murder of her parents and her trial and the fact that she wasn't convicted of the crime. It was and is a pretty sensational story. So, it isn't hard to figure out why this story is still so compelling. So, of course, I was happy to read Brandy Purdy's The Secrets of Lizzie Borden. After reading The Ripper's Wife by Purdy, I was pretty certain that she would make the story even more compelling and give a fascinating look into the life of Lizzie Borden. I was not disappointed.

I found Purdy's portrayal of Lizzie Borden to be thought-provoking and riveting. I think that Purdy has a real knack for making difficult characters understandable to the reader. I found Lizzie to be self-centered and snobbish  -- but I could completely understand her anger about her family situation. I thought that Purdy did a nice job of detailing the female rage that Lizzie felt about the constricted life forced on her by her father's miserly ways and societies ideas about proper behavior for women.

Despite understanding her bitterness, I had a difficult time really sympathizing with her because she was so unsympathetic towards those around her. She and her sister are cruel and petty towards their step-mother for no other reason than greed and resentment. Their preoccupation with their father's money, while somewhat understandable because of how he forced them to live, was definitely a sign of their own selfish and petty feelings. Lizzie felt herself to be better than other young women and felt she was due so much more than she had. 

Due to the method of murder, it seems that they were probably committed by someone close to them and in a rage -- and Lizzie fits that bill precisely. The trial was interesting and I found the reasons for her being found innocent to be fascinating and probably pretty accurate. The aftermath of the trial and Lizzie's life as a wealthy woman on her own was quite interesting.  

There were times during the story when I almost felt sorry for her because she was so desperate for love  - but she just kept making the same types of mistakes over and over again. Her one experience of a normal, loving relationship is thwarted by her family, of course. Her next bid for love - of a sort- and defiance of her father and society seems to have led directly to the murders and then she ends up in an equally abusive relationship later.  Lizzie leaves so much devastation around her that is hard to see past it. 

As usual, Brandy Purdy is able to bring to life the time, place and characters in such a way that I was thoroughly drawn into the story from the first page.  Lizzie's life was quite difficult and she had a pretty mean and petty family, but she was not a likable person/character. I could understand and empathize for her, but that is a close as I could come to liking her. I think that her life was sad and unfulfilled - some might say it was what she deserved.  I think it demonstrated how she managed to turn her freedom into a type of prison sentence in the end. I would recommend The Secrets of Lizzie Borden to anyone who is as fascinated with the case as I have been and anyone interested in historical fiction of the period.  

About the Author

Brandy Purdy (Emily Purdy in the UK) is the author of the historical novels THE CONFESSION OF PIERS GAVESTON, THE BOLEYN WIFE (THE TUDOR WIFE), THE TUDOR THRONE (MARY & ELIZABETH), THE QUEEN'S PLEASURE (A COURT AFFAIR), THE QUEEN'S RIVALS (THE FALLEN QUEEN), THE BOLEYN BRIDE, and THE RIPPER'S WIFE. An ardent book lover since early childhood, she first became interested in history at the age of nine or ten years old when she read a book of ghost stories which contained a chapter about Anne Boleyn haunting the Tower of London.

Visit her website at, you can also follow her on Facebook as Brandy Purdy aka Emily Purdy.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, January 26
Review at Julz Reads
Review at Unshelfish

Wednesday, January 27
Review at Time 2 Read
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Thursday, January 28
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Friday, January 29
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Interview at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Monday, February 1
Review at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, February 2
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Wednesday, February 3
Review at Broken Teepee

Thursday, February 4
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Friday, February 5
Review at The True Book Addict

Monday, February 08
Review at Brooke Blogs

Tuesday, February 09
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Interview at Brooke Blogs

Wednesday, February 10
Review at A Literary Vacation

Thursday, February 11
Review A Book Geek

Friday, February 12
Review at History From a Women's Perspective

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