Book Review: The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

“The victims of Jack the Ripper were never ‘just prostitutes’; they were daughters, wives, mothers, sisters, and lovers. They were women. They were human beings, and surely that in itself is enough.”

Hallie Rubenhold, The Five

Title: The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper
Author: Hallie Rubenhold
Genres: Non-fiction, History, True Crime, Biography
Length: 10 hrs, 19 mins (Audiobook)
Published: February 1st, 2019

My Rating: ★★★★
Read: 5/3/2023 – 5/10/2023


Behind Jack the Ripper is the lives of his victims. Given the illusiveness of this particular killer, the women he slayed tend to be swept aside. This book gives them a voice.

Each section of the book discusses each woman: Polly, Annie, Elisabeth, Kate, and Mary Jane. We learn about their lives leading up to their murders rather than the murder themselves. Along with the story of their lives, the author provides a detailed history of life in England at the time. 

I was initially surprised by the fact Jack the Ripper was hardly mentioned, but I think I ultimately enjoyed the book more because of it. It was incredibly insightful and put a lot of things in perspective. I will say that this was about 60% general history and 40% the five women. While interesting, this did cause the narration to drag at times. It’s worth wading through the slow bits. There is a lot to take in. 

Likes & Dislikes:

What I liked:

  • The incredible amount of research that went into not only the lives of the five women but also life in England at the time.
  • Spectacularly organized.
  • Conveyed respectfully.

What I didn’t like:

  • Slightly misleading marketing. Yes, this is very much about the five women, but I felt it was more of a general look at life (particularly for women) in this part of the world in Victorian times.


I was so happy to be reading this along with some people from The Global Book Nook on Discord. There were some great discussions. We all took something away from it.

Where to buy the book:

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