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

Start Date

Something I really enjoyed about this book is how very victim focused it was. It is not so much about the "murder and intrigue" that normally dominates true crime novels, especially those around Jack the Ripper. We read this book for our True Crime Club and many of us like this about the book, but also missed a little bit of the mystery we normally read. Despite not being typical true crime, there is a rather familiar “Holmesian” feel to this story. As was pointed out by one of our group members, this is the London of Sherlock Holmes. We all wondered if Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle had so much success with his Sherlock Holmes mystery stories in part because of this string of murders and the public outrage that they had not been solved.

We also talked in our discussion about how in many ways Victorian culture was responsible for the terrible lives and deaths of these women. Author Hallie Rubenhold really shows how limited and precarious the lives of working class women was at the time these murders took place. One quote that really stuck out to me was “The fibers that have clung to and defined the shape of Polly, Annie, Elisabeth, Katie and Mary Jane’s stories are the values of the Victorian world. They are male, authoritarian, and middle class. They were formed at a time when women had no voice, and few rights, and the poor were considered lazy and degenerate; to have been both of these things was one of the worst possible combinations.”

Find this book in our catalog or checkout the Ebook on Hoopla

For more True Crime, join our True Crime Club Facebook page and get notifications about our next case and meeting