Books · Reviews

(Audio) Book Thoughts: The Five – The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack The Ripper (Hallie Rubenhold)

Rubenhold, Hallie - The Five


Title: The Five – The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack The Ripper
Author: Hallie Rubenhold – Narrator: Louise Brealey
Genre: Non-Fiction / History / Biography
First published: 2019
Edition: Audio

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. The person responsible was never identified, but the character created by the press to fill that gap has become far more famous than any of these five women.

I am not a fan of true-crime books, but despite appearances, that is not what this is. This book is a history book more than anything and that is exactly why  I  wanted to read it.

This is not just the story of the lives of the victims of Jack The Ripper, but it paints a picture of the world they moved in and what it was like in England, and especially the poorer parts of London, in the Victorian era.

We follow these five women through their lives and circumstances and the author expertly weaves their story into pieces of information about went on in workhouses, housing developments, lodging houses, problems with alcoholism, etc. It never feels dull or dry. In fact, she really manages to bring poor Victorian London to life.

The stories of these women are sad and their endings, as we know, tragic, but there is light in this book, as it finally gives voices to these women rather than their killer, as they deserve and gives as much information about them as the author was able to find out.

I thoroughly enjoyed this as an audio book. The narrator does a great job in finding the right tone for this book.

6 out of 7 stars


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