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Scroll down for new "tidbits" from Parallel Lives! Updated March 11, 2012

Parallel Lives: The Social Life of Lizzie A. Borden and Her Fall River

Parallel Lives wins star review in Kirkus!

From the Fall River Herald News, June 12, 2012.

Fall River — "Parallel Lives: A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and Her Fall River,” written by Fall River Historical Society curators Michael Martins and Dennis A. Binette, has received a Kirkus Reviews starred review, one of the most coveted designations in publishing.

“Parallel Lives,” published late last year, shines a new light on Lizzie Borden and the city and era in which she lived.

Martins and Binette worked on “Parallel Lives” for a decade, traveling throughout the country to interview families who had relationships with the Borden family. The 1,179-page book includes some 35 never-seen-before letters, memos and cards written in Lizzie’s hand, including letters written from her jail cell, and five new photos of Lizzie. The photos depict her as an older woman and have never been released publicly.

“Parallel Lives” is not a book about the murder of Lizzie’s parents, but about the woman and the city.
Martins and Binette have said it is the first true biography of Lizzie Borden.

Kirkus Reviews, founded in 1933 and known as the world’s toughest book critics, awards the starred review to books with “remarkable merit.”

“If Kirkus gives your book a star, that means it’s a great book,” said Bob Carlton, Kirkus’s vice president and publisher. “I know because they annihilated my book.”

Recent recipients have included authors David McCullough, Philip Roth, and John LeCarre.

“It was a very nice surprise to be awarded a Kirkus star, a great honor,” Martins said. “I suspect we were just extremely fortunate and were assigned a reviewer who was interested in the subject, and realized the importance of the new material. I am told that was not the case, that Kirkus does not work that way.”

Kirkus reviewers said “Parallel Lives” is “a must-have for history buffs” and is a “riveting history of ... Fall River, Mass., and its most infamous resident, Lizzie Borden.”

“It’s really gratifying, after nearly 10 years of our working on this book, to have it recognized on this level by an institution as revered in the industry as Kirkus Reviews,” Binette said.

The book can be purchased at The Fall River Historical Society, Amazon.com, or www.lizziebordenparallellives.com.
Email Deborah Allard at dallard@heraldnews.com

"Parallel Lives: A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and Her Fall River," written by Fall River Historical Society curators Michael Martins and Dennis A. Binette, has been awarded an honorable mention for non-fiction in the New England Book Festival's 2012 competition.

The festival celebrates the best books across the United States and is judged by a panel of industry experts. Awards are based on general excellence, authors' passion for telling a story, and a book's potential to reach a large audience.

"Less than 5 percent of the books submitted to the competition are selected for an award, so this is a very significant achievement for Michael and Dennis," said Society President Jay Lambert.

"Parallel Lives" is based on nearly a decade of research and new material from private collections around the world. It provides the first intimate look at Lizzie Borden's private life as well as a detailed study of Fall River high society during the 19th and 20th centuries.

"Parallel Lives" features five recently discovered photographs of Lizzie Borden in her later years, including the only one known to have been taken at her Maplecroft home, and 35 unpublished pieces of her correspondence.

The book can be purchased at www.lizziebordenparallellives.com or by contacting the Historical Society at 508-679-1071.

Read more on the Fall River Herald News website.

A nearly-completed book project, currently underway at the Fall River Historical Society, promises to shed new light on the life of Lizzie Andrew Borden and, at the same time, provide a unique, and previously neglected, look at the social history of Fall River during the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.

Researched and written for the Society by its curatorial staff, Parallel Lives uses the time span of the family of Andrew Jackson Borden as the framework around which the story unfolds. Profusely illustrated with period photographs, including many never before published, the volume, in excess of 600 pages, will be fully indexed and hardbound. The expected date of publication is late 2009.

Relying on an extensive number of previously unpublished manuscripts and diaries, including a plethora of material gleaned from private collections, the book provides unprecedented insight into Lizzie’s world, into Her Fall River. No attempt is made to retell the story of the Borden murder case, but, rather, a picture is painted of the Fall River Lizzie knew. It was a city of sharp contrasts, where a privileged few, entrenched on “the Hill,” lived their lives surrounded by the factories and laborers that were their lifeblood, with one unable to exist without the other.

Fall River is brought to life: the people, the sounds, and the events that formed its history. Parallel Lives takes the reader back in time and provides a never-before-seen look at her life, and the environment in which she lived it.

Heretofore, Lizzie A. Borden has been presented in black and white, a one-dimensional character defined by legend and innuendo. Now, for the first time, we meet her as a far more complex, complete individual, whose personal life, albeit private, was one of grace and dignity—despite the specter of suspicion under which she was forced to exist. Though silenced by the grave, Lizzie and her contemporaries speak once again, revealing in their own words, heartfelt tales of anguish and tribulation, as well as those of love, laughter, and serenity, thus bringing their Fall River to life.

Here we meet a flesh and blood Lizzie in full color—a woman who was anything but the icon created by those who did not know her personally. Those who did painted an entirely different picture of the mistress of Maplecroft— and the stories they had to tell are here collected for the first time in Parallel Lives.

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A Parallel Lives Update
(December 22, 2009)

The holiday season is the busiest time of the year at the Fall River Historical Society. Preparations begin in early October to ready the museum for its annual Victorian Christmas Open House, which traditionally opens to the public the weekend before Thanksgiving. During this very hectic period, holiday events come to the forefront, necessitating that the Historical Society’s small staff put everything else on the backburner in order to meet the demands of the season.

Inasmuch as it was hoped that Parallel Lives would be published in late 2009, it became apparent that this was impossible, a result of day-to-day demands of running the museum, coupled with holiday planning. Progress on the publication, however, is not at a standstill.

The manuscript is complete, sans a few key additions to Chapter XVI, which is the final chapter. The first ten chapters of the book are completely laid out and in final proof, ready for publication. Layout of Chapter XI is currently underway, as is work on the comprehensive index; in addition, the dust jacket is nearly in proof state. The restoration of the nearly 500 photographs and illustrations that will accompany the text is also complete; though time consuming, this painstaking work was deemed necessary to insure that the images be reproduced in as clear a manner as possible.

Work on this unprecedented volume will resume as soon as the museum closes for the winter season; barring any unforeseen events, the Society’s goal is to have the book ready for publication by spring, 2010. We will keep you posted.

Thank you for your interest in Parallel Lives. Please visit again for future updates and additional tantalizing tidbits.

Scroll down for a new Tantalizing Tidbit for Parallel Lives!

Update: May 29, 2009

The Fall River Historical Society is pleased to announce that Stefani Koorey, Ph.D. has been secured to index the manuscript of Parallel Lives: A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and Her Fall River.

Dr. Koorey, a long-time Historical Society member, brings to the table myriad talents, as well as a vast knowledge of various aspects of the Borden case; her proficiency has proved invaluable. Her resume includes:

  • Author of Arthur Miller's Life and Literature: An Annotated and
    Comprehensive Guide
    , 2000.
  • Editor and Publisher of The Hatchet: Lizzie Borden’s Journal of
    Murder, Mystery & Victorian History
  • Webmaster of LizzieAndrewBorden.com
  • Co-editor of The Preliminary Hearing in the Lizzie Borden Case,
    new edition
    , 2005.
  • Lecturer
  • Publisher
  • Co-founder, Fall River History Club

The Society is confident that Stefani’s expertise will insure that the comprehensive, user-friendly index will be an asset to Parallel Lives, providing a useful resource for researchers.

Welcome, Stefani!

The following letter was received by the Fall River Historical Society:

May 27, 2009

Fall River Historical Society
451 Rock Street
Fall River, MA 02720

Attention: Board of Directors
Michael Martins
Dennis Binette

Dear Fall River Historical Society,

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Fall River Historical Society for inviting me to index Parallel Lives: A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and Her Fall River. My expertise in the subject matter, as well as my experience as a professional indexer, I think, will serve me well in this project.

After looking at the manuscript, I can honestly say that this book is going to cause quite a sensation, with those interested in either the story of Lizzie Borden or the history Fall River. It is a unique look at a most enigmatic woman, and presents material that has never before been seen or known. In my opinion, this book shatters myths and presents a portrait of one of Fall River’s most famous natives in a way that is sure to shape what historians and authors in the future write about her and this city.

Warm regards,

Stefani Koorey, Ph.D.

A Tantalizing Tidbit from Parallel Lives

Portrait of _______ (1858-1923)

The "Mystery" will soon be "Unveiled" . . .

Since 1893, the true identity of Todd Lunday, the author of The Mystery Unveiled:—The Truth About the Borden Tragedy, has been just that; a mystery!

Countless researchers, historians, and Borden afficionados have searched extensively, but to no avail.

Now, for the first time, the identity of Todd Lunday will be "unveiled."

Todd Lunday, the pen name for . . .

Another Tantalizing Tidbit from Parallel Lives

Click on image for larger version.

A Letter From Miss Lizzie A. Borden

Letters and notes in Lizzie's hand are extremely rare, with only a few examples, of a primarily mundane nature, thought to exist.

And so it has remained.

With the publication of Parallel Lives, much will change.

And Yet Another Tantalizing Tidbit from Parallel Lives

Lizzie Borden postcard

lizzie borden postcard
Click on images for larger version.

"Easter Greetings" from Miss Lizzie A. Borden

If letters and notes in Lizzie’s hand are extremely rare, then greeting cards are rarer still, with no examples known to have so far surfaced.

Until now, that is …

You see, Lizzie was never one to forget the holidays, any holiday, especially so when it came to those of whom she was fond. The bunny sticker is awfully cute, isn’t it? It was just like Lizzie to add that thoughtful touch of whimsy—in fact, it was typical of her.

Oh no, this is not the Lizzie A. Borden of myth and legend – it isn’t her at all. This is the real Lizzie, the one whose life will soon be revealed in:

Parallel Lives

And Still Another Tantalizing Tidbit from Parallel Lives

Lizzie Borden Taunton Letter

Click on image for larger version.

The Thoughts and Fears of Miss Lizzie A. Borden During Her Incarceration . . .

will soon become known in:

Parallel Lives

And Once Again, We Present A Tantalizing Tidbit from Parallel Lives

Lizzie Borden Christmas

lizzie borden Christmas
Click on images for larger version.

A Holiday Greeting from Miss Lizzie A. Borden

Dating to the nineteen-teens, this greeting card expressed Lizzie’s feelings about friendship; if she had composed the sentiment herself, the words would have rung no less true. The card was sent by Lizzie to a very dear friend and confidant, and is contained in its original envelope, bearing an inscription from the sender.

It was preserved by a descendant of the recipient, as part of an important personal archive of similar materials, all sent by Lizzie, documenting a close friendship of many years standing. The substantial collection, excerpts of which will appear in Parallel Lives, was recently acquired by the Fall River Historical Society.

And just who was it that received the card? Well, we are not giving that away - not just yet!

Parallel Lives



Check back often for more "tidbits" from Parallel Lives!


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