The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper

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Review

Taylor Shaye Roche
by
published on 24 June 2024
The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Title: The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper
Author: Hallie Rubenhold
Audience: General Public
Difficulty: Medium
Publisher: Mariner Books
Published: 2019
Pages: 359

"The Five" by Hallie Rubenhold offers a fresh perspective on the victims of Jack the Ripper, focusing on their lives rather than their deaths. Rubenhold's meticulous research brings these women to life, challenging misconceptions and shedding light on the socio-economic struggles of Victorian London. Unlike typical true crime narratives, this book emphasizes the humanity of its subjects. It's a must-read for history enthusiasts of all levels.

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper takes a refreshing approach by focusing on the lives of the women believed to be victims of the notorious killer rather than simply on their deaths. Unlike typical ripperology literature, this book barely mentions Jack the Ripper himself. Instead, it successfully brings the so-called canonical five victims to life, shedding light on who they were beyond their tragic ends. It offers a new perspective that challenges preconceived notions about these women and their places in history.

This book isn't just for ripperologists; it appeals to anyone interested in British history.

Hallie Rubenhold, author of The Covent Garden Ladies (2012) and The Harlot's Handbook (2007), showcases her mastery in The Five. She diverges from traditional Jack the Ripper narratives and focuses instead on the lives of the overlooked women. Through meticulous research, Rubenhold breathes life into their stories, exploring their relationships, livelihoods, and tragedies. This book isn't just for ripperologists; it appeals to anyone interested in British history. Offering a captivating glimpse into Victorian London's socio-economic landscape, it is a must-read for history enthusiasts and the curious alike.

Rubenhold's dedication to the five victims of Jack the Ripper is fitting, as she brings their stories to life with respect and dignity. Mary Ann Nichols, facing marital struggles, finds herself among the many homeless in Trafalgar Square. Elizabeth Stride, a Swedish immigrant, escapes a troubled past only to end up on the streets of London. Catherine Eddowes undergoes an abusive relationship. Mary Jane Kelly, once employed in a Paris brothel, seeks refuge in London. Rubenhold's portrayal of these women goes beyond their tragic ends, shedding light on the challenges they faced in life.

The Five challenges common misconceptions about the victims of Jack the Ripper, revealing a stark contrast to the sensationalized narratives often depicted in popular culture. Contrary to popular belief, only two of the five women—Elizabeth Stride and Mary Jane Kelly—were confirmed sex workers. Moreover, the ages of these women varied significantly: Mary Ann Nichols was 43, Annie Chapman 47, Elizabeth Stride between 44 and 45, Catherine Eddowes 46, and the youngest, Mary Jane Kelly, 25. Rubenhold's narrative offers a profound reexamination of these women's lives, moving beyond their tragic demise to illuminate the complexities of their individual stories. Placing each woman within the socio-economic backdrop of Victorian London, The Five provides a compelling exploration of the era's pervasive poverty and the harsh realities of daily life. Delving into the intricacies of workhouses, the narrative offers insights into the grim existence endured by those who found themselves within their confines. Additionally, it vividly depicts contrasting experiences, from the newly established Peabody Estate to the squalid brothels of the East End. Moreover, the book delves into the widespread perils of addiction, a prevalent issue among the urban poor, and the profound challenges of homelessness and familial disconnection. Through poignant storytelling, readers are transported into the harsh and unforgiving world faced by these five women.

This book is a remarkable literary work that transcends the confines of true crime literature, appealing to history enthusiasts of all levels of familiarity with the Whitechapel murders. Suitable for the teenage audience and beyond, this book offers a captivating journey into the hardships of Victorian London, making it a must-read for anyone interested in this era. What sets this book apart is its unparalleled depth of research and unique narrative approach. It stands as a singular masterpiece, offering a profound exploration of societal struggles and individual resilience. With no rivals in its genre, this book is an indispensable addition to any reader's collection. In its pages, this book unveils the forgotten snapshots of lives, preventing historical figures from being relegated to mere footnotes. Through poignant storytelling, it celebrates the endurance and resilience of its subjects, leaving an indelible impression on its readers.

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About the Reviewer

Taylor Shaye Roche
Archaeology and History enthusiast

Cite This Work

APA Style

Roche, T. S. (2024, June 24). The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.worldhistory.org/review/405/the-five-the-untold-lives-of-the-women-killed-by-j/

Chicago Style

Roche, Taylor Shaye. "The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified June 24, 2024. https://www.worldhistory.org/review/405/the-five-the-untold-lives-of-the-women-killed-by-j/.

MLA Style

Roche, Taylor Shaye. "The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 24 Jun 2024. Web. 18 Jul 2024.

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