#BookReview THE FIVE by HALLIE RUBENHOLD #NonFictionNovember

ABOUT THE BOOK

Five devastating human stories and a dark and moving portrait of Victorian London—the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper.

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.

For more than a century, newspapers have been keen to tell us that “the Ripper” preyed on prostitutes. Not only is this untrue, as historian Hallie Rubenhold has discovered, it has prevented the real stories of these fascinating women from being told. Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, revealing a world not just of Dickens and Queen Victoria, but of poverty, homelessness and rampant misogyny. They died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time—but their greatest misfortune was to be born a woman.

published by Doubleday

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  

hive.co.uk

whsmith

MY REVIEW

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine, Mary Jane. Names we should all know considering their place in crime history, but many of us don’t as more focus is placed on the perpetrator of the crimes against them than the actual victims. But in this staggering work, the author has set about redressing the balance so we can get to know more about the women who were brutally murdered in London in 1888 by Jack the Ripper.


The attention to detail throughout is staggering and I can only begin to imagine how long it must have taken the author to put this work together. Each woman is given their own section so that their story can be fully told through painstaking research into family trees, newspaper reports and police statements from family and friends, and it just makes for such absorbing reading. It gives you a real glimpse into life in those times, the bleakness, the struggles and the human side of these women who were dealt a rough hand throughout their lives, only for them to be ended in such horrific ways, and then their characters talked down after their deaths.


But this book gives these women a voice, so we learn of their upbringings, the family history and they all came from different backgrounds so there’s so many interesting things to learn about life in the past – the attitudes of society, the family dynamics and the devastating effects of addiction are brought to the front and your heart just bled for these women. However they tried to improve their circumstances, there was always something just around the corner to bring them down once more.


What I also found most profound was the list at the end of the book which was which items the women had on them at the time of their murders. Very poignant and really hit home of just how tragic their lives were.


Mixed in with the local news at the time, the good(well known) and the bad (much less reported!), this book does a magnificent job of transporting the reader back in time and I found it truly astonishing 
and enthralling. A must read and one of my books of 2019!


★★★★★

#BookReview LANDFILL by TIM DEE @LittleToller #NonFictionNovember

ABOUT THE BOOK

A ground breaking new book from the author of The Running Sky and Four Fields, Landfill confronts our waste-making species through the extraordinary and fascinating life of gulls, and the people who watch them. Original, compelling and unflinching, it is the nature book for our times.


We think of gulls as pests. They steal our chips and make newspaper headlines, these animals, often derided as “bin chickens” are complex neighbours, making the most of our throw away species. In the Anthropocene, they are a surprising success story. They’ve become intertwined with us, precisely because we are so good at making rubbish. Landfill is a book that avoids nostalgia and eulogy for nature and instead kicks beneath the littered surface to find stranger and more inspiring truths.
Landfill is the compelling story of how we have worked the rest of the living world, learned about it, named and catalogued it, colonised and planted it, and filled it with our rubbis
h.

PUBLISHED BY Little Toller

PURCHASE LINKS

Publisher Website

Amazon UK

whsmith

MY REVIEW

If you don’t become a ‘gull’ fan after reading this book then I think there’s something wrong with you! They’re a bird I’ve taken for granted, especially living so close to the estuary and the large landfill site in Pitsea where a lot of this book is set (and I never knew such gull action even went on there!), but in this stunning little book, the author really gets behind the ‘trashy’ image we all get of gulls – that they’re aggressive and ugly and serve no real purpose other than nicking your food if you’re at the seaside, or attacking small animals in gardens, thanks to silly season reports in newspapers! The more that he studies these birds in various sites, the more he begins to appreciate them and realise just how much human behaviour has impacted on their habits. Hence the link with rubbish and why so many can be spotted at landfill sites across the county.


The author is a birdwatcher, and his enthusiasm and passion for the subject is infectious as he follows the birds and talks to the people who follow these birds and are known as ‘gullers’. They’ve become fascinated by the species and their behaviour and will travel long distances for glimpses of rare breeds but also to note changes in their numbers. And due to the changes in the way we dispose of food waste especially now, the numbers aren’t seen at landfill sites anymore so they’re having to change where they get their food, and heading away from the seaside and into towns.


I really enjoyed the mix of the way the author told the story of the gull – he used his own knowledge alongside where they’re mentioned in poetry, literature and films, and it made for an absorbing read and I never thought I’d find the subjects of gulls and rubbish so fascinating! The information and anecdotes were really well balanced and made for an enthralling read.


I’m really glad to have been educated about these birds that I think we all take for granted and largely ignore, so will definitely be paying more attention to the local gull population!


★★★★


My thanks to the publisher, Little Toller, for a copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview THE WAY TO THE SEA by CAROLINE CRAMPTON #NonFictionNovember #TheWayToTheSea

ABOUT THE BOOK

Caroline Crampton was born on the Thames Estuary to parents who had sailed there from South Africa in the early 1980s. Having grown up with seafaring legs and a desire to explore, Caroline is both a knowledgeable guide to the most hidden-away parts of this overlooked and unfashionable part of the country, and a persuasive advocate for its significance, both historically and culturally. As one of the key entrances and exits to England, the estuary has been pivotal to London’s economic fortunes and in defining its place in the world. It has also been the entry point for immigrants for generations, yet it has an ambivalent relationship with newcomers, and UKIP’s popularity in the area is on the rise. As Caroline navigates the waters of the estuary, she also seeks out its stories: empty warehouses and arsenals; the Thames barrier, which guards the safety of Londoners more precariously than we might; ship wrecks still inhabited by the ghosts of the drowned; vast Victorian pumping stations which continue to carry away the capital’s sewage; the river banks, layered with archaeological Anglo-Saxon treasures; literature inspired by its landscape; beacons used for centuries to guide boats through the dark and murky waterways of the estuary; the eerie Maunsell army forts – 24 metre high towers of concrete and steel which were built on concealed sandbanks at the far reaches of the estuary during the Second World War and designed to spot (and shoot) at incoming enemy planes; and the estuary’s wildlife and shifting tidal moods.

PUBLISHED BY GRANTA BOOKS

PURCHASE LINKS

amazon uk  £11.89

whsmith  £11.89

hive.co.uk  £12.49

MY REVIEW

As someone who lives alongside the Thames Estuary, I found this to be a fascinating mix of memoir and history of the Thames from Caroline as she looks back to her first memories of the Thames with her parents, and how it has changed as she travels back along the Thames from the source to the open sea. And there’s huge differences in the River from one end to the other so it’s really interesting to hear her thoughts as she sees the landscape change around her on her journey.

And amongst her own personal recollections of time spent along, and in!, the Thames there are also clever uses of how the Thames has been recorded and used in history, literature, art and photography which gives you another look at how important a role that the Thames has played over the years, and continues to do so but in a rather different way now than before.

As a local to the Thames I found it fascinating to learn so much more about places and points along the river that I thought I knew so well! I understand the pull of the Thames so I really connected with the author and her ‘obsession’ with the water and the places along it. From the animal life to the diseases and disasters that have plagued this stretch of water, I found this book to be really entertaining and informative.

★★★★

#BookReview Woods: A Celebration by Robert Penn #NonFictionNovember

ABOUT THE BOOK

A tribute to the natural history of some of our most iconic British woods. The National Trust manages hundreds of woods, covering more than 60,000 acres of England and Wales. They include many of the oldest woodlands in the land and some of the oldest living things of any kind—trees that are thousands of years old. From Dean to Epping, from Hatfield to Sherwood, this book covers the natural history of Britain’s forests and how they have changed the face of a landscape. Covering the different species of trees that give these woods their unique characters, the plants and animals that inhabit them, and the way their appearance changes throughout the seasons, Woods is a fascinating and beautifully illustrated celebration of Britain’s trees and the ancient stories that surround them.

Published by National Trust

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  £20

whsmith  £14

MY REVIEW

A beautiful coffee table book that helps to shine a little light on just how important woods are and how the National Trust are doing all they can to help preserve and conserve these areas for many generations to come.

This book takes you through the seasons in a variety of NT owned woods and how the flora and fauna change through the year and how each wood is used nowadays – how can it stay relevant in these more modern times when large patches of woodland are disappearing fast.

It talks about the problems facing these areas and the diseases that are wreaking havoc amongst the native species. As well as personal commentary from the author, it also features poetry, history and literature that features woodland areas.

The photos are beautiful and especially Autumn for me with all the different colours showing, just shows how stunning these areas are and hopefully will continue to be with the help of the National Trust and other organisations.

★★★★

My November TBR – nonfiction November special!

I’m feeling rather smug for this month! I’m all  up to date with Blog Tour reading  so that means I’ve pretty much got free reign for this month, perfectly timed seeing as it’s Non Fiction November too so maybe I’ll now finally get round to the ever growing pile of non fiction titles that I’ve been saving up for this month!  Might even make more of a dent on my Netgalley TBR…I’m just getting ahead of myself now aren’t I?!  Right, here’s what I hope to read  in the month ahead….please click on the book title for a link to the GoodReads page for more info!

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

This is the November choice for the Readalongs With Karen group on GoodReads

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

Landfill by Tim Dee

The Way To The Sea by Caroline Crampton

Please Read This Leaflet Carefully by Karen Havelin

How To Catch A Mole by Marc Hamer

The Otters’ Tale by Simon Cooper

Woods: A Celebration by Robert Penn

Looks like I’m in for a very educational month! I just hope my poor little brain cells can cope!!

HAPPY READING!!

#BookReview A Book of Silence by Sara Maitland #nonfictionnovember

About the book

In her late forties, after a noisy upbringing and then adulthood as vocal feminist and mother, Sara Maitland found herself living in the country. She fell in love with the silence, and in this profound, frank memoir she describes how she explored this new love, searching for silence and solitude.

Published by Granta Books

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk

book depository

MY REVIEW

Seeing as we seem to live in a world that regards silence as dangerous or unsettling, I found this to be a fascinating look through the eyes of a woman searching for a much quieter life as she grows older. And as she explores various settings to access her dream, she soon finds out that silence can mean so many things to so many people, and that there are different kinds of silence!

I’ve noticed that as I’ve grown older I much prefer a quiet atmosphere which seems much more difficult to find in the modern world we live in which seems to want to bombard us with noise wherever we may find ourselves, and as the author goes to extreme measures to obtain the holy grail of silence it is interesting to see how her mind deals with the changes in her life and seems to respond in wonderful ways to enjoying the quiet thing in life!

This book follows her as she moves to rural properties and takes trips on her own to see what kind of effect this has on her state of mind – she starts to enjoy the less frenetic pace of life, takes time to notice the little things in life and breaks free from being a ‘slave to time’ that we all often find ourselves trapped in. It touches on the importance of silence in religion, spirituality and the way that modern life seems to demand a noise is made! Even a minutes’ silence now is often replaced by clapping- what is it about being quiet that scares so many people?!

I found myself really connecting with the author and her discoveries along her journey, and she even touches on how spending too much time in silence can affect your mental health, the bad sides and the good! It was so interesting to see how she found even the simplest task of shopping after spending time being quiet, as the noise from a shopping mall or supermarket was just so amplified. It was also clear that silence means different things to different people.

A really captivating look at such a simple subject and so much to think about in ways of getting that balance between living in a noisy world and taking time out to enjoy the peace and quiet!

✵✵✵✵✵

#BookReview The Lonely City by Olivia Laing #nonfictionnovember

About the book

What does it mean to be lonely? How do we live, if we’re not intimately engaged with another human being? How do we connect with other people? When Olivia Laing moved to New York City in her mid-thirties, she found herself inhabiting loneliness on a daily basis. Fascinated by the experience, she began to explore the lonely city by way of art. Moving fluidly between works and lives – from Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks to Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules, from Henry Darger’s hoarding to David Wojnarowicz’s AIDS activism – Laing conducts an electric, dazzling investigation into what it means to be alone, illuminating not only the causes of loneliness but also how it might be resisted and redeemed. Humane, provocative and deeply moving, The Lonely City is about the spaces between people and the things that draw them together, about sexuality, mortality and the magical possibilities of art. It’s a celebration of a strange and lovely state, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but intrinsic to the very act of being alive

Published by Canongate

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk

waterstones

book depository

MY REVIEW

I found this to be a fascinating and thought provoking look at the concept of loneliness, through the author and her own experiences alongside those of a number of famous artists and the struggles they faced of their own, and how loneliness affected their art and outlook on life.

When Olivia Laing moved to New York for a relationship, she quickly found herself alone in a strange city and this book sees her coming to terms with her situation and how it made her feel, and how social media gave her an uneasy sense of security, and often made life easier to face from the safety of a computer screen. It goes into what loneliness means to different people – the isolation, the fear of missing out and not fitting in – and how the world we live in today seems to be fracturing those real relationships and the art of conversation.

This book also features the lives of prominent artists over the years – such as Warhol and Hopper – and how their own lives were blighted by loneliness and despite their fame and success it was a difficult feeling to escape from. It goes into detail of their often complicated lives and was a fascinating insight into some of the art worlds’ most famous names.

I think she captures the mood perfectly in this book – exploring the way the mind works at times, when you often feel ’empowered’ by not conforming and fitting in, and then equally ashamed by not following the pack and feeling outcast. Loneliness isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ kind of thing and that comes across so well in this book and made for a riveting read.

🌆🌆🌆🌆🌆