The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper Kindle Edition – Hallie Rubenhold
Why do we know and celebrate the name of a murderer – and ignore their victims?
I always thought that “Jack” murdered prostitutes. Destitute and fallen women who lived and died in wretched poverty. But that’s not the case. Drawing on public records and contemporary reports, Hallie Rubenhold has done the impossible and resurrected these women.
It takes a certain kind of skill to marry an entry in a dusty ledger to a description in a newspaper, and then spin it into a biography. The author is always careful to couch her descriptions with qualifiers; “a woman in this position would undoubtedly…” and “the social norms of the day demanded…” – yet it feels so vividly real.
Importantly, the author acknowledges where the official records are incomplete or contradictory. This isn’t a perfect biography. It’s taking the scraps of information we have and augmenting them into a coherent narrative.
It would be lovely if the book included more photos, or images or the original documentation. But, as it stands, it is the perfect antidote to the endless stream of grim fascination with a murderer.