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The Borden Tragedy: A Memoir of the Infamous…

The Borden Tragedy: A Memoir of the Infamous Double Murder at Fall River,…

by Rick Geary

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

I seem to remember this little ditty from childhood, although I don't believe I knew who Lizzie Borden was until high school or early college, when I stumbled across the story in a compilation of American hauntings. It's a terrible tale of unsolved murders, to be sure! In Fall Rivers, MA, the wealthy Andrew Borden and his wife are brutally murdered on a hot summer morning. The main suspect is Andrew's spinster daughter, Lizzie,and her trial will become one of the most hotly debated of the 19th century.

Rick Geary's comic book is a very succinct telling of the story. He neatly summarizes events and includes all the major details. It's a little dry, his telling, but I like that he doesn't veers off into speculation or attempt to solve the mystery beyond the conclusions drawn by the 19th century public. He also avoids the later rumors of ghosts and hauntings that became attached to the Borden House, which I thought was the right way to go with this book.

The way that Rick Geary draws cheekbones weirds me out a little. He draws a series of parallel horizontal lines to mimic the shadowed contours of the face, but on several characters (most notably, Lizzie Borden) it looks more like he drew cat whiskers on her face. Otherwise, his comic does a great job of capturing the feel of 19th century newspaper illustrations – which you can directly compare, since several facsimiles of the original newspaper accounts of the murder and trial are reproduced at the back of the book.

Interesting note: Today, the Borden House is open to the public as a bed and breakfast. ( )
1 vote makaiju | Nov 6, 2011 |
Of particular note are Geary's attention to the homes, rooms, and furniture in his story. All the backgrounds are detailed without being overdone and add just the right amount of realism to the sordid tale.

[full review here: http://spacebeer.blogspot.com/2010/10/borden-tragedy-memoir-of-infamous.html ] ( )
  kristykay22 | Oct 21, 2010 |
In graphic novel form, the double murder of Andrew and Abby Borden is detailed through research by Geary. The investigation, trial and chaos within the city of Fall River, Massachusetts is "supposedly excerpted and adapted from the unpublished writings of an unknown woman from the Borden's hometown of Fall River". This "unknown woman" is the narrator.

Even knowing the basics of the Borden tragedy, I still found this book to be fascinating - of course, not the murdered victims, but the details of the investigation and Geary's drawings. Presenting and reading this horrible event as a graphic novel made a piece of history (albeit an ugly piece of history) a realistic atrocity. I read it in one sitting (it's short) and was engrossed the entire time. I will definitely be pursuing others graphic novels by Geary. (4.5/5)

Originally posted on: Thoughts of Joy ( )
  ThoughtsofJoyLibrary | Aug 25, 2009 |
Great story and illustrations by Rick Geary ( )
  illustrationfan | Apr 3, 2009 |
The graphic novel follows a unnamed lifelong friend of Lizzie Bordon as she attempts to make sense of how such a tragedy not only befell her friend, but came to be blamed on her as well. (The narrator is based on an unpublished memoir from a resident of Fall River that was discovered in 1990.)

Fantastically drawn in black and white, the frames reminded me of old newspaper drawings. Geary immediately jumps into the action, describing the sweltering heat of that fateful August and introducing the Bordon family at a distance as the story remains true to our narrator's point of view. While the narrator purports to be a confidant of Lizzie's, there are no great secrets revealed - no intimate details, no sensational confessions, not even a transcript of the jailhouse visit. So while this does prevent a fairly uncluttered point of view, it also seems to be somewhat of a tease as it only serves to present a good reason to give Lizzie the presumption of innocence.

Rather than concentrate on the murders, the fallout and investigation are the meat of the matter - and why not? Crimes of the Century are a national pastime and this was one of the biggest. It had everything - wealth, social status, spinster daughters, rumors of family strife and enough idiosyncrasies amongst the living and dead to keep things fresh in the news. If we would like to fool ourselves into thinking we were better about privacy or somehow classier about gossip, this case should put those fantasies to rest. Geary presents the citizens of Fall River as lookie-loo extremists - standing outside the house for nearly a week in hopes of gaining glimpses of he bodies or of the sisters. If they weren't standing outside, they were granting interviews to newspapers to offer of sensational "facts" that would later be retracted (Geary presents some of the articles as printed in an appendix).

All in all, this is a quick read and an interesting look into the events in Fall River. The point of view is fresh with a small town that has been thrust into the spotlight feel to it. ( )
  stephmo | Dec 20, 2008 |
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The grim and seething summer of 1892 will never depart my memory...nor, I daresay, will it be ever forgot by the good citizens of Fall River.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Retells the story of Lizzie Borden who was accused of being an axe murderer

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