#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 Things In Jars by Jess Kidd

About the book

London, 1863. Bridie Devine, the finest female detective of her age, is taking on her toughest case yet. Reeling from her last job and with her reputation in tatters, a remarkable puzzle has come her way. Christabel Berwick has been kidnapped. But Christabel is no ordinary child. She is not supposed to exist.

As Bridie fights to recover the stolen child she enters a world of fanatical anatomists, crooked surgeons and mercenary showmen. Anomalies are in fashion, curiosities are the thing, and fortunes are won and lost in the name of entertainment. The public love a spectacle and Christabel may well prove the most remarkable spectacle London has ever seen.

Things in Jars is an enchanting Victorian detective novel that explores what it is to be human in inhumane times.

Published by Canongate Books

Publication Date – 4th April 2019

PRE-ORDER LINKS

Goldsboro Books  – signed first edition £14.99

hive.co.uk  £10.99

waterstones  £14.99

MY REVIEW

Move over Sherlock, Bridie Devine is the new super sleuth in town and I adore her! Jess Kidd has created another dark and wonderful tale set in Victorian times that explores the disturbing disappearance of a young girl, who has been kept hidden away because she’s ‘different’ – she feeds on snails, has an unusual appearance and is also said to possess powers.  The family she is stolen from are never too forthcoming with details about her, so it’s left to Bridie to uncover the dark story behind young Christabel, and that leads Bridie to look back on her own childhood too.

She isn’t alone on her quest as she is joined by the rather wonderful   Ruby, a ghost-boxer who appears in Bridie’s life at a seemingly random time! Is there more to his story than meets the eye?! He adds many lighter moments throughout with his comments and observations but also shows sensitivities which are very touching.

As she confronts many repulsive characters on the search for Christabel, the look back on her own earlier life is also a fascinating glimpse into why she feels so connected to this poor girl and why she is determined to try and save her.  

And while there is much love for Bridie and her quest, the evilness of many characters throughout is another success of this book! The levels of depravity that some of them sink to is eye-wateringly shocking and I just found myself wishing for karma to deal with them as soon as possible – in a very unpleasant way!!

I was utterly riveted by this story! And switching the story from the now timeline to Bridie’s past added more as she also had a very unconventional upbringing which explained her outlook on life – and death – now!  The more she uncovers about various characters, the more you left to be staggered by the goings on and I found that I had my heart in my mouth with the dramatic ending.

  I would love to say more about this book but am sure I would include a spoiler or three, so I’m just going to have to say if you love your stories dark, dramatic, mysterious, macabre, weird, wonderful, tense and thrilling then look no further!!

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