Sweet Madness

LEAVER, Trisha & . 256p. ebook available. Adams Media/Merit. Sept. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781440588945.
Gr 9 Up—The disturbing tale of murderess Lizzie Borden is told through the viewpoint of her family's fictional Irish immigrant maid, Bridget Sullivan. Many aspects of the well-to-do Borden family make the household unusual; the lack of electricity, their clothing, limited interaction with their community, and constant gossip about Lizzie's behavior set them apart from other families of their station. Although the family is not cruel to Bridget, the fact that Mrs. Borden rarely speaks to her and the constant fighting between Lizzie and her father make her arrangement truly onerous. While Bridget is sympathetic to Lizzie's agony over her home life, Mr. Borden's cruelty and Lizzie's growing paranoia cause her to seek new employment, but not before being a partial witness to the Borden murders. While viewing the Borden family through the eyes of their servant offers a unique perspective, the characterization of Bridget Sullivan is serviceable but not memorable. The protagonist's relationships with her fiancé and Lizzie are superficially drawn; there is little depth to any character. Details of Mr. Borden's murder by Lizzie are brief yet chilling, while the description of the condition of Mrs. Borden's corpse is more gruesome and extensive. Unfortunately, readers have no information about the extent to which the authors fictionalized events.
VERDICT A promising premise that falls flat.

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