Lizzie Borden Took An Ax
Gave Her Mother Forty Whacks
When She Saw What She Had Done
Gave Her Father Forty-One
I remember this rhyme from childhood, which makes me feel a bit old because it’s not something that younger people sing about anymore. When I found out that my co-worker (who oversees our Adult Book Club) thought that Lizzie Borden was a fictional character, I almost cried. Who does not know about Lizzie Borden?!
The Trial of Lizzie Borden by Cara Robertson is the book of choice for February’s book club here at Katherine Tyra (click on the book cover to the left to be taken to our Facebook Event page!) and so I decided to read it, since it is indeed a true crime. Not necessarily a serial killer since (if she was guilty) she never killed again, but the tale holds such fascination for me even after 129 years.
Charged with murdering her father and stepmother, she went to trial and her lawyers fought for her with everything they had available to them at that time, which admittedly, was not much. The fact that her lawyers had to do this with no evidence to back up Lizzie’s story shows how eloquent of an orator they were. Not only that but the Prosecution had such a great case against her (they thought) that it looked like it might be hard to beat them.
Now, I looked at this with the eyes of a Gen X’er, so I realize that I may have a bit more “women have equal rights” ideas in my head and therefore are definitely capable of horrific things, the same as any man, but the lens in which the author wrote the book is a picture of women being helpless and gentle and entirely incapable of doing such horrendous deeds, because they are the picture of obedient daughters, wives, and sisters. That’s a whole other type of horror for me.......
Read this book, be sent back in time and picture what your life might be like as Lizzie’s was. And then try not to be horrified by a woman's life in 1892.
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