Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings, that spotlights the upcoming releases that we can’t wait to read. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Breaking the Spine. You can find out more here.
This week I’m waiting on: The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
Expected Publication: February 28th (UK), April 9th (US)
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 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 recently discovered The Five when Imogen Hermes Gowar (aka the author of The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock) raved about it on Twitter:
That’s high praise indeed! It sounds like this will be an engrossing and richly detailed work of historical nonfiction. Although I do find the Jack the Ripper murders interesting, I’m not overly interested in them by any means. What I am incredibly interested in however, are the lives of overlooked, everyday women throughout history. I look forward to reading about how these women lived as opposed to merely the brutal ways they died.
Are you interested in this too? What book(s) are you waiting on this week?