Book Review // The Secrets of Lizzie Borden by Brandy Purdy

The Secrets of Lizzie Borden Book Cover The Secrets of Lizzie Borden
Brandy Purdy
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Historical
Kensington Books
January 26, 2016
Paperback, Kindle
384 (Paperback)

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.

I won my freedom and baptized it in blood, with Death acting as midwife at the bloody birth that spawned my new life! In one blood-bathed day I was transfigured! I was set FREE! Free, rich, and orphaned all in the same bloody day.

I simply forgot that Lizzie Borden was a real person, that caused real harm, murdering her parents in cold blood. I truly became entranced by The Secrets of Lizzie Borden and how author Brandy Purdy told the tale of a sheltered women completely absorbed in the belief she was right for killing her parents.

If you, as a reader, are anything like me, you may actually feel a tinge of sympathy for Lizzie…just a bit…for what she believed she lost and for what could have been.

I loved the story. The reading flowed so effortlessly. Even with having some understanding of Lizzie Borden history, I believed that I was reading a book that had no link to a historical figure. I was entranced by Lizzie and her story that Purdy weaved, that I almost felt like I understood Lizzie and why she did what what she did.

Just one thing to take note of. I mention this read as a “stand-alone” because I concerned myself over comparing fact and fiction. This is a story developed from Lizzie’s POV using research, facts, and of course writer’s interpretation. Definitely keeping an open mind during this read will allow for more enjoyment.  

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

Neither here nor there… book length: I started to feel some drag on the backside as the action hits a high-point about mid-way through. I say that this is a neither here nor there topic because the back half of the book is not bad, it finishes off the story and allows Lizzie to give explanation. In my reading, it seemed to offer too much space after the action.

Brandy Purdy has done a wonderful job in taking historical fact and weaving a story from Lizzie’s POV. I certainly never felt like I was reading simply facts regurgitated, but a stand-alone book not pulled from history.  Definitely 4 out of 5 stars.

Brandy Purdy is the author of several historical novels. When she’s not writing, she’s either reading or watching classic movies. She currently lives in Beaumont, TX. Visit her website at for more information about her books. You can also follow her via her blog at where she posts updates about her work and reviews of what she has been reading.