The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

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.
Their murderer was never identified, but the name created for him by the press has become far more famous than any of these five women.
Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, historian Hallie Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, and gives these women back their stories.

Even before the Five was released there was some really positive hype surrounding this book and as soon as I heard about it I was itching to give it a read. There has been many books, shows and films based on the murders Jack the Ripper committed but for me The Five shows us a different side to the story and for me that makes it something highly addictive read. I haven’t read many non fiction books but to me The Five is one of the most interesting and well researched book I’ve ever read.

I have always been intrigued with anything to do with Jack the Ripper, an even though I don’t normally read non fiction books, I have in the past read some books on this subject. As well as books, I have watched and listened to the many shows and documentaries about the killer but for me The Five is something entirely original because instead of focusing on the mysterious killer and trying to name a new suspect of whom the killer could be, instead this book focuses on the victims of Jack the Ripper.

The Five is split into different sections focusing on the the five women who were brutally murdered by Jack the Ripper, and each section goes into detail about their lives before their murders. Most books about the Whitechapel murders say that the women were prostitutes and that would be it. But reading this book it has made me realise that these five women all had families and friends and by the end of the book I felt a connection with each of them. There is so much more to each of the women who’s lives were cut short because of a monstrous murder and I am so happy that someone has finally told their stories.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author but I will be checking out their other books because I absolutely loved their writing and the way they managed to explain and convey so much information that is easy to understand and not feel like your reading a text book.  You can tell that the author cares about what they are writing and they want to tell the women’s stories properly and give their stories justice. The author also manages to create such a scene in your head that its not hard to imagine the murky setting of Victorian London, which gives the reader another dimension when reading this book.

I would highly recommend The Five to all because even if you have never read a non fiction book before I think you will still find this book very intriguing and utterly gripping. For me it has shown people that the women who were killed by Jack the Ripper weren’t just victims, but they were people with families and their own lives that were savagely cut short. The Five sticks out from other books on this topic because it is something new and original and deals with something that other authors have decided not to investigate. I could easily see myself re reading this book again in the future and still enjoy it just as much.

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I rate this book 5/5 stars

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