Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves created and hosted by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post, here.
The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper
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. The person responsible was never identified, but the character created by the press to fill that gap has become far more famous than any of these five women.
For more than a century, newspapers have been keen to tell us that “the Ripper” preyed on prostitutes. Not only is this untrue, as historian Hallie Rubenhold has discovered, it has prevented the real stories of these fascinating women from being told. Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, revealing a world not just of Dickens and Queen Victoria, but of poverty, homelessness and rampant misogyny. They died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time—but their greatest misfortune was to be born a woman.
I knew I needed to buy a copy of this book as soon as I heard it was coming out, and once it was released I dutifully went to my nearest bookshop and picked up a copy. There’s still a fascination surrounding Jack the Ripper, but The Five is the book I didn’t know I’d been waiting for until I saw it: that is, a book about Jack the Ripper’s victims.
Ultimately, I don’t really care who Jack the Ripper was or why he did what he did – the simple answer is that he did what he did because he was evil – but I do want to know more about the lives of the women he killed, and how their position in society at this point in history made them so vulnerable to someone like him. I can’t wait to read this one!
Are their women from history you’d love to know more about who’ve been overshadowed by the men around them? What are some of your favourite history biographies?
This week I’m joining in with Lipsy @ Lipsyy Lost & Found to talk about the books I’ve been reading recently!
The Calculating Stars has been on my radar for a while but the paperback is still quite expensive, so I managed to find a copy in my parents’ local library after it was shortlisted for the Science Fiction category in the Booktube SFF Awards. I’ll be visiting my parents again this week before I pop off to Seville for the weekend (I’m very excited; I’ve never been to Spain before) so I’m hoping to get this one finished soon so I can give it back to the library.
I took part in the #FemmeFanTale readathon last week and had great fun, and ended up finishing the readathon with The Lost Sisters, a novella set in the Folk of the Air series. It was an easy enough read and it was well written, but I think it’s made me dislike Taryn even more. I keep trying to see things from her point of view, and Holly Black does do a great job of exploring how these two sisters react differently to being forced into a life in Faerie, but man… Taryn is an awful sister.
I want to carry on with my Booktube SFF Awards reading with Children of Blood and Bone, which I’m looking forward to finally getting to! At the beginning of the year I mentioned that I wanted to get out of the habit of putting off books I think I’ll love because what am I saving them for? I’ve heard some ‘meh’ review of Children of Blood and Bone since its release, but I’m still looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about.
What have you been reading recently?