The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold is an incredible book which tells the stories of five women murdered by Jack the Ripper. Rubenhold explores these women’s tales from childhood to adulthood in such an atmospheric way, I often forgot that this was non-fiction. Aside from telling these heart-wrenching stories, this book is almost a history of London as well. Rubenhold’s sense of setting is impeccable and I loved listening to the audio version.
This book tells the true stories of the women murdered by Jack the Ripper. From tough childhoods, to the point when they were targeted by the serial killer, this book considers the people who really matter when it comes to murder; the victims. The research conducted for this book makes for a true representation of the characters, fully taking every aspect of their lives into account. Rubenhold returns the victims’ innocence to them in many ways through this book.
Why I liked this book…
Pure and simple: this book is one of a kind. While anybody can tell the stories of victims, The Five really looks at how these women lived, their troubles and how they were viewed in society because of their hardships. Despite the world condemning these women, Rubenhold speaks their truth and gets it out there for everybody to understand. This book steps away from the slut-shaming culture of the 1800s and into the twenty-first century mindset of understanding.
I like how this book doesn’t consider Jack the Ripper much at all in this book. As others have commented, this is an important narrative because it tells the stories that are needed to be heard. It is topical in light of the #metoo movement and in an era of women stepping up and owning their truths. I think it also casts shade over all the true crime books and documentaries surrounding killers and rapists, as Rubenhold tells the world to stop romanticising these horrible people. She gets justice for the victims in her own way through this book.
Overall, this is an excellent true crime book which tells real stories of young women who’s lives were taken too young. I would recommend this to lovers of true crime and the stories of victims, as well as people who enjoy books that support women. I listened to this on Audible, but probably would have preferred reading it physically. 4*!