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

4.54  ·  Rating details ·  463 ratings  ·  117 reviews
Miscast in the media for nearly 130 years, the victims of Jack the Ripper finally get their full stories told in this eye-opening and chilling reminder that life for middle-class women in Victorian London could be full of social pitfalls and peril.

The "canonical five" women murdered by Jack the Ripper have always been dismissed as society's waste, their stories passed down
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 9th 2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published February 1st 2019)
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4.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  463 ratings  ·  117 reviews

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Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is not about Jack the Ripper, it is about his five victims. Written to remember five women who are usually just names in hundreds of books about the infamous serial killer, this book is an attempt to tell their stories and to remind us that they were once babies, daughters, mothers or lovers, who lived lives full of hardship and misfortunes. The amount of research done by the author is imposing and she managed to recreate the lives of women who lived modest and ordinary lives in the Vi ...more
Samantha Shannon
I've been waiting for someone to write this book for years.
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this book is absolutely wonderful. It was everything I expected and more. I honestly had tremendous difficulty putting it down! It is very clear that Rubenhold has done her research for this book, and she masterfully keeps a fine balance between telling the story of each of the five women's lives, and the pure, solid research and creating the atmosphere of what life would have been like at that particular time.

I thought the women's stories were very moving. They were written with style,
Bill Lynas
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've probably read far too many books on Jack The Ripper in my lifetime, but Hallie Rubenhold's book sounded intriguing. Instead of covering the actual murders she puts together an excellent narrative covering the lives of the five victims, as well as opening reader's eyes to the social history of London in 1888. Much like Robin Jarossi's book The Hunt For The 60s Ripper (covering eight unsolved murders in the 1960s) Rubenhold treats the women killed with dignity & respect.
The book supplies
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The first thing to know about The Five is that it is a book defined by its approach; the second thing is that the approach is long overdue. The facts are these: in the late summer and autumn of 1888, from the end of August to November, five women were murdered in London’s Whitechapel neighbourhood. They appeared to have been killed in the same way, and presumably by the same person. That person was never caught, but the persona that solidified around him (though, of course, we can’t know fo
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting representation of the social history, especially of the lower classes, of the Victorian era based on the lives of the five Ripper victims. It is good that the lives of these ladies are explained and that they have been taken out of anonymity in this way.
I got through 53% of this book and am going to push it aside. It is way too full of details and I feel the story of these unfortunate girls is getting weighed down by too many elements that are not necessary. Perhaps, I will pick it up once again at a later time.
The Book Review Café
I have read many true crime books over the years, and they have always focused on infamous killers with little thought given to the victims. I’m sure you can all think of a list of infamous killers, but can you remember any of the victims’ names or their life stories? Probably not I know I can’t, which is desperately sad. This book provides the reader with an incredible insight into the five victims of Jack The Ripper, Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane. Yes, they were victims of t ...more
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm going to talk about this book to everyone until they tell me to shut up. Brilliant, totally fucking brilliant. The research that's gone into this piece of work is extraordinary.
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
The fact that I listened to this on audiobook in just six days says it all. I couldn’t ‘put it down’, so to speak. It’s a powerful feminist corrective to the narrative of the victims of Jack the Ripper, which determinedly focuses on the five women’s lives rather than on their deaths or the pathology of the man who murdered them. Mileage may vary on the dramatic evocation of emotions, but the archival research and the cultural and social scene-setting is extraordinarily well done. Do read it, whe ...more
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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, homele ...more
Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
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
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Hallie Rubenhold has researched the lives of Jack the Rippers victims meticulously, she has given them a voice, whereas in other renditions of these heinous crimes they are a mere footnote. This time Jack is not the focus and is hardly mentioned. Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Kate and Mary Anne are shown in a new light, Jacks victims are shown as victims off their time and circumstances. History has painted Jack's victims as prostitutes, however only two of them had any history of being a sex worker ...more
Mar 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: whitechapel
I think it's commendable to focus on the lives of victims and the circumstance of the time.
However the author seems, like a victorian snob, obsessed about elevating social status of the victims.
For example she speculates that Mary Kelly was from a higher class. This, based on a comment that she was, an artist of some measure. The author then concludes that she had artistic training, and was therefore posh, without any particular evidence. This Ignores the fact that what one person considers arti
Clare Snow
"Society was designed to ensure that a woman without a man was superfluous."
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Outstanding, would definitely recommend. Is researched so meticulously and written to provoke interest. Possibly one of my favourite books and needs to be thrust into the hands of everyone, historians and students alike.
Mar 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was looking forward to reading this book and whilst there was much to like about it I felt that there was too many assumptions made. Here are three examples: 'it is likely that a 22 year-old servant called Annie Chapman was among them' . 'It is possible that she and George met somewhere near to his barracks on Portman Street'. 'A relation of Ruth's worked for a Sussex family who lived on nearby Clifton Place, where she too may have been employed'. These examples occurred in two paragraphs on p ...more
Title : The Five

Author : Hallie Rubenhold

Genre: History ( true crime )


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 breat
Donna Hines
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Their greatest crime not the fact they were born but the fact they were born as women.
The media portrayed 'Jack the Ripper' as a killer of prostitutes but the definition of a prostitute surely needed clarification especially at the time of their deaths -1888!
"A woman's entire function was to support men..." "A woman's role was to produce children and to raise them." "Poor women's labor was cheap because poor women were considered expendable and because society did not designate them as a family'
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
This is a genuinely astonishing, mould-breaking, beautiful and humane book. Rubenhold excavates the lives of the five women through public records, newspaper reports (which she treats with justifiable scepticism) and the inquest reports that survive for two of them. She puts their lives into carefully but sometimes passionately stated context, ranging through workhouses, education, living conditions, the availability of contraceptive information, sex trafficking, the Swedish prostitutes' registe ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 pat
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
**I received an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

Rubenhold writes a beautifully moving narrative nonfiction about Jack the Ripper’s five victims. As she states in her introduction, these women were mothers and daughters and deserve the truth to be told. While history has labeled all the victims as prostitutes, Rubenhold shows otherwise. Extensive research helps to share each woman’s story, from their humble beginnings to the situations
angharad mair
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[ 4.5 ★’s ]

words truly cannot explain how incredible it is to see someone write a true crime book focused only on the victims. i understand that killers are interesting and the psychology behind them are fascinating but i really do believe that most people tend to forget that the victims are real people, human beings whose lives were stolen from them and sometimes in the most horrific of ways.

so i don’t think i can explain how happy i am that this book is just about the victims, it doesn’t go
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow! A wonderfully researched exploration of the women who were killed by Jack the Ripper. Rubenhold refuses to dismiss these five women as mere prostitutes and instead, takes the reader into the back alleys, workhouses, and orphanages to examine the struggles of women during the Victorian period. Indeed, their deaths are barely mentioned and instead the author chooses to look at these women's lives. One of the best books I have read this year!
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant and interesting book. I have read books on Jack the Ripper. This book deals with the five women who were savagely murdered by Jack the Ripper around different areas in London in 1888. To this day, the murders of these women and the murderer is unsolved.
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To tell something untold is often to attempt to tell something unspeakable, with all that word’s connotations of unutterable or inexpressibly bad; horrendous. The vicious murders of five women by the figure the Victorian media dubbed Jack the Ripper in the year 1888 are in many regards unspeakably ghastly, taking place amid “the broken pavement, dim gaslights, slicks of sewage, stagnant pools of disease-breeding water” of London’s most neglected East End neighborhoods.

In “The Five: The Untold Li
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to Edelweiss for an ARC of this book!

This book is absolutely phenomenal and incredibly important. I finished it in about a week, which is a VERY short timeframe for my usual non-fiction reading speed, but wanted to wait to review it until I'd digested it. Well, I think that will take quite some time, so in the meantime, I just want EVERYONE TO GO READ THIS BOOK. Rubenhold strikes a fantastic balance between very thorough research and the narrative thread of each woman's life, weaving t
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ex
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although my family is from East London, and I grew up nearby, I've never been very interested in Jack the Ripper. In fact, I've always found the 'Ripperology' phenomenon distasteful. Regardless of his identity, wasn't he just another woman-hating murderer? Nonetheless, as soon as I heard about the premise of Hallie Rubenhold's book, I was hooked - and it doesn't disappoint. 'The Five' looks at the lives of the 'canonical victims' in turn, and reveals a great deal about how difficult life was for ...more
Wonderful. Hallie Rubenhold gives back a sense of agency to five of the world’s most well known victims whose names can’t even be listed by most people. The care and the research the author took into creating this book is tenderly seen on every page, and I only hope that more true crime/true crime-esque books will look to The Five as an example of how to humanize victims of sensationalized crimes. As someone who’s big into true crime and does historic research for a living, I was shocked by the ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Two records for this book 2 19 Apr 10, 2019 03:02AM  
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“It is for them that I write this book. I do so in the hope that we may now hear their stories clearly and give back to them that which was so brutally taken away with their lives: their dignity.” 3 likes
“When a woman steps out of line and contravenes the feminine norm, whether on social media on on the Victorian street, there is a tacit understanding that somone must put her back in her place. Labelling the victims as 'just prostitutes' permits writing about Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Kate and Mary Jane even today to continue to disparage, sexualize and dehumanize them; to continue to reinforce values of madonna/whore.” 3 likes
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