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The Five

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Member Reviews

I really enjoyed reading a different narrative from the one that is usually given about the women who were murdered by Jack the Ripper. The Five attempts to bring the women to life and it makes you think. It was nice to read something not focussed on the murderer, but on the ones that lost their lives so brutally. Excellent book.
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Spooky, thrilling,  and enthralling. Great read! I will definitely check this author out again.  They write so well and suspenseful  style.
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This was a very cool take on Jack the Ripper, since it focused on his victims. This was a fascinating read and is a must-read for anyone who likes true crime or historical novels.
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I received this book in exchange for a honest review from NetGalley. 

This book is a beautiful ode to the women who were forgotten in favor of a deplorable man. The author shows that these women continuously were failed by the morals and circumstances of the Victorian era. This book is sad. Very very sad. There were times I wanted to stop reading it, but these women's stories deserve to be told in a frank and honest manner that eschews Victorian sensibilities. I needed to read and know these stories because in the end they deserved more then they were given.
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Hallie Rubenhold has written a fascinating true crime story highlighting five of Jack the Ripper’s victims – Polly, Annie, Elisabeth, Kate, and Mary Jane. After death, all of these women were labeled alcoholic prostitutes, but were they really?

An amazing amount of research has gone into the writing of this book! Through census records, marriage certificates, death certificates, newspaper articles, and so on these five women’s lives have been reconstructed unlike ever before. Jack the Ripper’s victims were assumed to all be alcoholic prostitutes, but there is far more to these women than what meets the eye. Many of them were married at some point, had children, worked, and so on. Yes, they all became down on their luck and made poor decisions, but the labels they received were not necessarily warranted.

It was impossible for every moment of these five women’s lives to be known. When needed Hallie Rubenhold tells the reader what was typical for the times to give us a sense of who they were, what they may have been thinking at the time, and why they may have made some of the decisions that they made.

Her vivid descriptions took me right to the Victorian Era. She managed to pull me into this story through the sights and sounds of the times. I learned a lot about what life was like during this time period in London for both the lower and the middle class.

It is such a shame that the police came to such quick assumptions as to who these women were. There were a number of omissions, inconsistencies, and unanswered questions that surrounded these horrific crimes. Maybe, just maybe if their deaths had been properly investigated their killer may have been apprehended. Sadly, this is something we will never know.
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This work was extremely well researched and vividly humanizes the Ripper's five canonical victims. I was happy to read very little in this book to romanticize the murderer. It seemed respectful to keep this story about the real women of 1888. The women's lives were very similar in many respects, so much so that the center of the book seemed to drag a bit, but I know that the author was trying to do each woman enough justice. I'm happy to have read this one, as it gave me much greater insight into what life was like for these five women. Recommended reading to understand society of the time and women's roles in it.
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This is a very well-researched book that looks at the lives of the women who were murdered. It is not about him. While this book tackles the myth that all of the women were prostitutes, it does so in a respectful way that does not shame the women who were or imply that they somehow deserved their fates. I had no idea about the rampant alcoholism of the era and I feel like I learned a lot about this time period.  I commend the author's research, writing, and the respect she showed the women.
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As an Anglophile and a True Crime aficionado, this was the perfect book for me. I love that Rubenhold gave such focus on the victims, where other books on Jack the Ripper focus mostly on the police procedures. Highly recommended!
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The Five, a detailed accounting of the lives of Jack the Ripper’s victims, is a really impressive, well written piece of scholarship. Rubenhold has brought the women themselves to the forefront rather than their killer or their grisly deaths. I was amazed at how much she was able to find out about these women, and her research also includes excellent accounts of the social factors at the time. Rubenhold argues that the women (except for the last victim, Mary Jane) were not sex workers, and that they were homeless women murdered while they slept on the street (again, except for Mary Jane). She includes fascinating details about what life was like in Victorian London for poor women -  as a servant or in the workhouses, as well as what it was like to split from your husband, be an immigrant, fall on bad luck, or just drink a little too much. I particularly liked Rubenhold's conclusion, in which she stresses that the victims were real people who mattered, and points out both the misogyny of Jack the Ripper and the culture that idolizes him and pays no attention to who his victims were.
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The is a very interesting book.  The author has research and written about the five women that were brutalized and murdered by Jack the Ripper.  The author has brought a new perspective to the women's stories.  This is not a book about Jack the Ripper but a true book about his victims.  The book looks at the lives of the women and what lead them to be in caught in the Ripper's grasp.  This is truly a first that gives a personalized look at the women.  Anyone that has an interested in the Ripper should read this book.  This book shows you the human side of these women and finally they can have their say.  This was a truly awesome book that was informative and brought the women to life.  You can finally see where assumptions were made about these women and how it helped in letting a serial killer get away.  There is always more to story than one side and for a first the five are getting their story told. The women were not only victims of the Ripper but also victims of society.
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A unique look at the Jack The Ripper murders. The author really did her research! This book adds more heart, depth and history than others I have read about the Ripper.
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I've always been fascinated by true crime and the motivations behind it. I loved how this book took a different approach to the story to look at the victims and the assumptions and prejudices that have shaped how history has told the story of Jack the Ripper and the victims. It's a beautifully written and well researched exploration!
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All of us have heard of Jack the Ripper and some of us may have read books, either fictionalized or factual, about who the mysterious killer might have been, but I have never read a book about the Ripper's victims...until now.

Historian Hallie Rubenhold has done extensive research into the lives of the five known victims and breathed life into these unfortunate women. Along with their backgrounds, she has painted a picture of London during this time period and shown how dismal it could be for those trying to make a living wage, while trying to keep a roof over their heads and feed their families.

It's help me understand what it must have been like for relatives of mine who lived in London during this same time period and were also struggling financially. 

I highly recommend this excellent book.
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When is a book about Jack the Ripper not about Jack the Ripper? When the book involves the masterful biographical research and social commentary of Hallie Rubenhold’s The Five.   

Rubenhold brilliantly illuminates the lives of the Ripper’s victims and gives them back their dignity and humanity. At the core of her argument, she expertly picks apart the long-standing fallacy that these five women were all prostitutes. But more than just restoring their good names, Rubenhold provides thoroughly detailed mini biographies and dives deep into exploring not only the circumstances of these particular women but the plight of all poor women in Victorian England. She shows how easy it was for a single woman to fall into poverty and how it was systematically and culturally nearly impossible to dig your way back out.  

The Five is a groundbreaking work of art, weaving in equal parts Charles Dickens and  Thomas Carlyle with a splash of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle thrown in for good measure.
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A well researched and concisely documented report on the lives of the victims of Jack the Ripper and the shattering of the myth that he murdered "prostitutes, only". Rubenhold digs deep into the backgrounds of the five women's lives and lays out a revealing history of Victorian England and its treatment of the poor, displaced, and abandoned peoples; especially that of women falling on hard times. A great read for lovers of true crime and history, but, spoiler alert: the killer's identity is still at large.
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The Five is not a traditional book about Jack the Ripper or the crimes attributed to him. This book is a detailed account of the individual women untimely taken as a result of his actions. Mary Ann “Polly" Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elisabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly were all complex individuals, and each had a life worth acknowledging and celebrating. Hallie Rubenhold brings these women to life as daughters, wives, mothers, and friends. Surveying both their successes and failures allows the reader an impression of life in Whitechapel, London for those who found themselves objects of poverty and fighting a daily struggle for survival.  

Rubenhold does a masterful job of reclaiming these women from their unjustified portrayals in history. Not only does the author provide insight to the people involved but painstakingly describes the lifestyles, working conditions, societal hierarchy, and industrial details of the Victorian working class. It is clear that Reinhold’s research included many hours canvasing census, organizational registers, and church records in an attempt to gain as much as possible from what little is left in regard to the victim’s lives. Because of the lack of material available, there is some redundancy within chapters and the author is drawn to multiple assumptions, although not in a way that is detrimental to the work as a whole. Expansive footnotes allow the reader to research further if desired to make their own hypotheses.   A great lesson is taken from the work to evaluate newspaper content within the context of the times in which they were written. As proven in this book historical newspapers should not serve as a comprehensive source of events. The Five is a riveting piece of non-fiction and one that should be added to research in the fields of biography and criminal psychology. 

Full disclosure- An ARC of this book was provided via NetGalley in return for this review
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“The Five” of the title are the five women most researchers agree were murdered by the serial killer known as “Jack the Ripper” in 1888: Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elisabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly. If you’re looking for a book about the murders, this isn’t it. There are plenty of those available. Rubenhold focuses on the biography of the five women from their earliest days up to the date of their murders. She makes extensive use of primary sources to piece together the personal history of each woman. The common thread linking the five women is not prostitution. Although all five women have been labeled as prostitutes, Rubenhold found no concrete evidence linking three of the women to prostitution. What they do have in common is alcoholism and homelessness. This book should serve as a starting point for researchers and curious readers who want to know more about the Ripper’s victims.

This review is based on an electronic advance reading copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
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I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 
I loved this book. It was a fascinating exploration into the assumptions and prejudices that shape our interpretation of historic events and figures. I recommend this book to anyone who is enthralled by Victorian London, crime history, or POV history with a an impeccably researched, completely innovative interpretation. Five stars.
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Hallie Rubenhold  does this period of time incredibly well. Like her previous books, she doesn't shy away from sex and gritty details, nor is she overly explicit and graphic. This book gives background to the women killed in London by the serial killer Jack the Ripper. It is an account if the women's lives, down to what can be assumed or proven of their parents lives and movements. The depth of background did confuse me at times, if I got distracted while reading,  but I definitely was drawn into the story if how these five women ended up in the circumstances that left them vulnerable to a killer.  My only real criticism is of Rubenhold's conclusion. While the sentiments expressed in it are true, I felt that the end of a dense and lengthy book about the women history neglected was cheapened by the soapbox at the end.
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I received an advanced digital copy of this book from the author, Netgalley.com and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  Thanks to all for the opportunity to read and review.

The Five tells the story of the victims of Jack the Ripper. It is well researched, and while slow at times, well written. The author writes almost like a lecturer would speak, and it's a lecture I would definitely recommend going to!

5 out of 5 stars. Highly recommended.
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