Cover Image: The Five

The Five

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Member Reviews

Reclaiming the Victims of Jack The Ripper

This book is a very timely exploration of the way that we view victims of these terrible crimes. In it, Hallie uses a quotation from 2008 for the trial of the Suffolk Strangler where the judge told the jury to disregard the lifestyles of the women he murdered as he felt that the jury may be influenced by their jobs as sex workers. This is a great point as we are still in a society where victims of crime such a rape are judged for their appearances. 

She explores the lives of these women in a very accessible way, showing that although  it is widely believed (and indeed almost romanticised as such) that they were not all prostitutes and that we are doing them a disservice to believe the myths and focus on the murderer. Victorian society made it impossible for a woman to survive without men and any perceived transgression led to a woman being branded as ‘fallen’. All of these women had in one way or another suffered ill luck through their circumstances and suffered complete degradation as a result. This is a story of workhouses, doss houses, tramping the street, being cast out by your family and just trying desperately to survive. Alcohol was a major factor in two of the stories, the women were addicted to it as it was cheaper than food, numbed the pain and made them feel warm. 

Rubenhold is a brilliant storyteller who brings the women to life so that you almost feel like you know them. She has also obviously done a great deal of difficult research, having to disregard biased and incomplete evidence. 

I have been fascinated by the debate on twitter that she has begun about the way that Jack the Ripper is taught in schools as a way to draw teenagers into the history of Victorian slums and the business of the museums and tours where people seem to revel in the murders. It’s shocking some of the brutal and gory teaching materials she has found (work out the price of a prostitute, draw the dead victim etc.). She does not include anything about the murderer and not much about the murders, just where they took place and what the victims were carrying at the time. If you are looking for a book where the author provides any speculation about who the Ripper was or what happened when he murdered the victims this is not it, what it is is a meticulously researched biography of women who are traditionally overlooked.
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With thanks to NetGalley, the author and publisher for the arc.
Description:
"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."
Exceptionally well researched, this book paints a vivid picture of the Victorian poor and the lives of women living in extreme poverty and want. Consoling themselves often with the only thing available to them to ameloriate their condition, alchohol. Rubenhold has given these women a context and a place in history that depicts real people with their own histories and heartbreaks, not just a name and as the plurality of Jack's victims. I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in social history.
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Title : The Five 

Author : Hallie Rubenhold

Genre: History ( true crime )

Pages:336

April 9 ,2019



Book synopsis

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 thoughts :

rating: 4

Would I recommend this ? yes but to only people who love to read stuff about Jack the Ripper and to ones who love to read about history

Would I read any thing else from this author? maybe

This book was different then I thought it was going to be , instead of just talking about the cases and Jack the Ripper , the author brings to life the 5 victims , their past and  their present lives leading up to their deaths, the way England was doing that time, how people was looked down up on and treated , how families was broken up if and when they went in to the workhouse and how much people was paid especially the women of that time . She gives back the murder women their names , their dignity and reminds us that just because they was down on their luck , they was some one's mother , sister , and daughter and that they also deserved the protection that they didn't get .With that said I want to thank Netgalley for letting me read and review it exchange for my honest opinion.
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•	Title: The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed By Jack the Ripper
•	Author: Hallie Rubenhold 
•	Series: Stand Alone
•	Pages: 336
•	Genre: True Crime, Non Fiction, Historical
•	Rating Out of 5 Stars: 5

My Thoughts: 
     The Jack the Ripper case files have always been a fascinating subject to me. It is rare to see someone have done so much research into the lives of the women who were the victims of such heinous mutilations.
   	Rubenhold does a fantastic job of giving these women back their lives. I learned a great deal that I didn’t before. She goes into their families, what brought them to London, how they ended up at the chance of becoming victims and the misconceptions about their lives in general. While presented clearly it is a little dense of a read. Still highly enjoyed this read and absolutely recommend it.
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4.5 STARS - From August 1888 to November 1888, five women were murdered in the Whitechapel area of London by a person (or persons?) known only as Jack the Ripper. There have been countless articles, books and movies of the infamous crimes, with most focusing on the violence and mystery surrounding Jack's identity.

The Five takes a different view with Rubenhold focusing on the five female victims who, for more than 100 years, were labelled as prostitutes. But through tremendously detailed research piecing together the lives of the five women - Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane, Rubenhold shows readers how and why these depictions of the victims are gravely false.

The book has five chapters, one for each victim, but doesn't focus on their brutal and well-publicized deaths. Instead, it focuses on their humble beginnings up until they were murdered because these women were much more than their grisly deaths and the misconstrued labels society gave them.

What struck me the most about this book was the author's vivid and unflinching look at the lives of the lower class in the 19 century - lives that were often brutal, uncertain and set within horrific living conditions. Rubenhold also focuses on the limitations imposed upon women of the time, especially those of the lower classes. With no rights and few options available, most women were at the mercy of the men in their lives and could look forward to working to support their family at a young age, getting married, have numerous children (of whom they'd lose a significant number to disease and malnutrition) and an early death. Life was hard in the late 19th century, but significantly harder for women.

With this unique focus, Rubenhold shines a light, not on the vicious crimes of a notorious mad man, but on the five female victims. And while, at times, the book was a little info-heavy, I applaud Rubenhold for humanizing the victims of these infamous murders that have captivated the world for over a century as well as shining a light on the hardships of women in the late 19th century.

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Very interesting read that uses the past to analogize the present. Every person I asked assumed that these five women were prostitutes and I'm glad someone is putting the record straight and recognize these women were human beings that had a value. I think this book, while a considered a biography of The Five, is much more than that. It is a universal theme that all women face, even today. Will definitely recommend.
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This book was phenomenal. It was so cleverly written, thoroughly researched, and interesting! Wow. Just wow! Rubenhold has done an incredible job of taking the scant information surrounding these girls and turned them into real people rather than just stories. Real women facing real hardships who have been overlooked and largely forgotten by the world.
I was very surprised at the harsh parallels between Victorian Britain and today - it was disturbing and deeply upsetting to hear of a familiar pattern of poverty, homelessness and prejudice that is still plaguing our country to this day. 
History and fiction has largely focused on the Ripper, giving the status closer to a  sensationalised celebrity than vicious murderer. As Rubenhold notes, 'By embracing him, we embrace the set of values that surrounded him in 1888.'  With all the focus on 'him', the tragedy and story of the victims has fallen into the background and are largely overlooked nowadays. I really appreciate this version of history that gives the women that voice they deserve.
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A very interesting and eye opening book about the victims of Jack the Ripper and the social climate of that era.
I liked that this book really focused on the women; who they were, what we know of their lives rather than about who Jack the Ripper may have been.
Jack the Ripper has become this romanticized figure, but this book reminds us that his victims were real people and they came to see and unfortunate ends.
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So often we hear stories of the murderer, but nothing of the victims. This author tells us the back story, fortunately omitting grisly details, of the five women thought to have been murdered in the late 1880’s by a serial killer called Jack the Ripper. These women were all pretty much homeless and alcoholic which was “entirely overlooked as a factor in their murders; a ‘houseless creature’ and a ‘prostitute’ by their moral failings were one and the same.” Their world was one of “poverty, homelessness, and misogyny,” where it was especially difficult for women who were either on their own or in an abusive relationship to survive. It was disturbing to read that some self-righteous Victorian men opined that this murderer was doing a service to society; Rubinhold’s extensive research reveals that “they died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time—but [that] their greatest misfortune was to be born a woman.” Readers interested in women’s history, particularly during the Victorian period, would undoubtedly enjoy this fascinating book.
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I really enjoyed this book. Everyone has looked into Jack the Ripper, but none to my knowledge have looked into the lives of the women he killed. This book is well researched, and though a bit slow, full of good information. One cannot know the full story without knowing everyone involved. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy.
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A fascinating recovered history of Jack the Ripper's 'canonical victims' which finally turns the lens from the figure of their murderer, which cannot be known, to the women he killed, who can. Rubenhold does fascinating recovery work here, and the change in emphasis really reshapes this well-known story. Rubenhold makes them human in looking at their lives beyond the moment of their deaths and the aftermath of their autopsies, in showing them to be more than 'prostitutes' who met the wrong man one foggy night. What's fascinating is not only that these lives have not been centred in the myth of the Ripper and past popular and even scholarly studies, but that what evidence Rubenhold finds is both, amazingly, there to be found, and so fragile, so relatively sparse, and so much detail has been irrecoverably lost. Even what survives would never have drawn attention, if they had not died when and how they did.
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This is a fascinating look  at the five victims of Jack the Ripper — all of whom have been somewhat lost in the shadow of The ripper.  Rubenhold has done an amazing amount of research to tell these women’s stories and to set the record straight about who they were and how they came to be in a position to be victims of this terrible crime.

Ultimately, this is the story of the poor (and particularly the poor women) of the 19th century.
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