The Five by Hallie Rubenhold | Mini Book Review

Title: The Five: The Lives of Jack The Rippers Women

Author: Hallie Rubenhold

Publisher: HMH

Published Date: April 9th, 2019

Genre: Non-Fiction, History, True Crime

Source: Kindle Unlimited

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads Summary:

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.


My Review:

It was so nice to finally get to learn about the women that were killed by Jack the Ripper. Everything in the media especially documentary wise is always about figuring out who he was, but never about the women. This is a breath of fresh air in one of the biggest unsolved murder cases known worldwide.

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Mary-Jane, and Catherine while all lead very different lives up until they died, also had militaries due to the time-period and what women were allowed to do. The Five tells their story as best as possible from documents the author found. We have reports, legal documents, and written stories from families/friends that each of the women knew that all piece together each of their lives as best as possible.

Overall this might just be the best non-fiction book I’ve read so far. Not only was this an account of their lives but it also touched on the expectations and limitations put on all women of the time and how it made their lives harder. Getting to see an inside look into each of their lives and notice the similarities and the differences was fascinating and I couldn’t get enough. There was so much about England and specifically London that I had no idea about, and it’s amazing how much has changed since there deaths.
I’m looking forward to reading more by this author in the future.

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