Book Review: “The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper” – Hallie Rubenhold

81ZQ2NrGldLThe Blurb

“Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.

What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888.

Their murderer was never identified, but the name created for him by the press has become far more famous than any of these five women.

Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, historian Hallie Rubenhold finally sets the record straight and gives these women back their stories.”

What I thought:

I cannot tell you how much I loved this book! Finally a voice for the women who became the victims of Jack The Ripper. While Jack has become the hero of this story over the century and a half since the Whitechapel murders, Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Kate and Mary Jane can now tell their own stories, and they are ones that will make you weep with pity and frustration.

Mothers, wives, daughters, friends, all these women had, at some point, a family that loved them, some were educated, all suffered at the hands of an unjust and cruel society that failed them over and over again. What Hallie Rubenhold has done with this book, is not only tell a fascinating tale of women’s lives in Victorian times, but she has bestowed some dignity upon them, finally.

Verdict:

Read this! I implore you! Never sentimental, always empathetic, this is a non-fiction book that is as gripping and page-turning as any fiction novel. It’s important and timely but also just a damn good read. Cannot recommend highly enough! I suffered from a huge book hangover after reading The Five and I am still thinking about them now.

 

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Her Majesty Saffy approved heartily!

 

 

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Day 30 – A favourite sensational novel

Pass the smelling salts…

This is one of my favourite genres: victorian sensational books. All that drama, mystery, plotting and intrigue. It’s like reading a gossipy soap-opera with guilded carriages and dastardly villains. The first book I ever read that was classed as “sensational” was Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. From the first page I was hooked:  A 19th century who-dunnit complete with beautiful but cunning villainess, rambling old houses and an upper-class layabout-turned-detective. Fabulous!

Lady Audley’s Secret was one of the first “sensation” novels ever written, and while it doesn’t have the sophisticated and multi-layered plots of todays thrillers, that keep us guessing until the very end and on the edge of our seets, it is nonetheless a great page turner and so much fun. This book was originally serialised in a paper back in 1862, and I can imagine eagerly awaiting the next installment as they would have done back then.


 

 

  Have you read any sensational novels? Any other recommendations?