Book review: The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

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The Five : The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper
By Hallie Rubenhold
★★★★★
Publication day: 28 Feb 2019
Publisher: Doubleday

I would certainly say that my 2020 will be a year full of books and, most of all, full of non-fiction titles. To be honest, I don’t know why but I have been picking up biographies and memoirs since the beginning of the year. The one I am reviewing today bewitched my mind to the point that I was unable to put it down.

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold tells the story of Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane, five women who are famous for the same thing. They are known as the Canonical Five and were killed by Jack the Ripper at the end of the XIX century. The person responsible was never identified but the character has become far more famous than any of these women.

And I say women, not prostitutes, because for more than a century we’ve believed that ‘The Ripper’ killed only prostitutes and – as the author has discovered – this is untrue.These women were mothers, daughters and lovers. They walked the streets of London and died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. In this book, Hallie Rubenhold sets the record straight and reveals the live stories of these fascinating women.


Genuinely devastating, this book opened my eyes to life in Victorian London. It is the life portrayed in Dickens’ novels: a life of poverty, homelessness, illness and misogyny. It was deeply unsetting and honestly addictive. Made me want to know more about life during these years and how the society reacted to the Whitechapel murders.

The book is divided into five different parts and each of them narrates the life story of the different victims. The book is not only incredibly well written but thoroughly researched. Rubenhold clearly knows what she is writing about.

What I really liked about the book is that the author treats the victims with respect and offers no judgement to their life choices or behaviours which is utterly remarkable. No gruesome details or horror stories are given to the readers, nor pictures of the women either, which made the author’s message clear: these women were victims that were treated without any kind of respect and it’s time to change that. For the last century, their murderer has attracted more attention than them to the point that nowadays there is a Jack the Ripper museum and walks around the sites of the murders.

What Rubenhold tries to make us understand is that the victims were not ‘just prostitutes’, they had a life, desires and feelings – and they deserved kindness and appreciation. Maybe it’s time we start giving it to them.

Read more about the book on goodreads.
The book is available to buy now from Amazon and all good bookshops.

Little Book Review: So Lucky by Dawn O’ Porter

So Lucky
By Dawn O’Porter
★★★★★
Pub date: 31 October 2019
Publisher: HarperCollins

IS ANYONE’S LIFE . . .

Beth shows that women really can have it all.
Ruby lives life by her own rules.
And then there’s Lauren, living the dream.

AS PERFECT AS IT LOOKS?

Beth hasn’t had sex in a year.
Ruby feels like she’s failing.
Lauren’s happiness is fake news.

And it just takes one shocking event to make the truth come tumbling out…

Fearless, frank and for everyone who’s ever doubted themselves, So Lucky is the straight-talking new novel from the Sunday Times bestseller.

Actually, you’re pretty f****** lucky to be you

————


Genuinely uplifting, deeply joyful and hugely funny tale. It made want to read without a pause. The stories of the three protagonists felt real and imperfect, which is what I liked most about the book. 

The writing was raw and the novel is filled with life lessons that will make the readers rethink twice about their own lives.

Really excellent. Highly recommended.

Book review: Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Girl, Wash Your Face
By Rachel Hollis
★★★★★
Pub date: 8 March 2018
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

On my last day working at Hachette UK, my lovely colleagues gave me a very special present. It was one of the most thoughtful I have ever received. It was an Amazon Gift Card with a certain amount of money they hope I’d spend in kindle books. And that’s exactly what I have done. I have bought lots of books with the card and Rachel Hollis’ Girl Wash Your Face is one of them.

I was looking for something to boost my self-confidence and this book appeared as one to read on so many websites that I went on Amazon UK and bought it straight away.

In her first book, founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Rachel Hollis helps readers break free from the lies keeping them from the joy-filled and exuberant life they are meant to have.

Written with wry wit and hard-earned wisdom, each chapter of Girl, Wash Your Face begins with a specific lie Rachel once believed that left her feeling overwhelmed, unworthy and ready to give up. As a working mother, a former foster parent and a woman who has dealt with insecurities about her body and relationships, she speaks with insight and kindness to help women unpack the limiting mind-sets that destroy their self-confidence and keep them from moving forward.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Let me start by saying that I am not one for inspirational Instagram quotes with gold letters and pastel backgrounds so when I first started reading Girl, Wash Your Face I was more than a bit sceptical. Could this famous American blogger teach me something about self-esteem and confidence? Really? Without even realising it, I had started judging Hollis’ book and I was sure she couldn’t tell me anything new about myself and the lies I have firmly believed for the last 28 years.

I was wrong, of course. Once I started the first chapter, I couldn’t stop reading. I read Rachel’s book on my way to and back from the office and also before I turned off the light and went to sleep at night. I found her advice uplifting, funny, honest and direct. Most of all, it felt real. I felt as if I was able to trust what was written in-front of me. With a combination of humour and no-nonsense advice, Rachel Hollis was able to teach me many things.

I learnt about the lies I have too been telling myself: that when I get the perfect flat / job / handbag / clothes I will be happy. That I am not good enough, that I will start tomorrow, that there’s only one right way to be and that loving my boyfriend is enough for me. Just to mention a few.

Let me tell you that I highlighted more sentences in Hollis’ book than in any other on my kindle library. Her advice made me smile and it made me feel stronger. I think that deserves five big and shiny stars.

Of course there would be people out there who won’t like what she has to say or her background but I feel it’s only fair to let her to put pen to paper and write what she knows, just in case it can help someone else.

To be honest, her words helped me. They opened my eyes at the right moment because what she says it’s true: the only person responsible for your happiness is you. Which is truly fantastic.

You can read more about Rachel Hollis here: The Chic Site
And don’t forget to check out Girl, Wash Your Face here.
Hollis’ new book, Girl, Stop Apologising is out now.

Book Review: The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts

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The Plus One
By Sophie Money-Coutts
★★★★★
Pub date: 9th August 2018
Publisher: HQ

I’ve been reading a lot but I haven’t had the time to sit down and write my thoughts on the books I’ve read which is not great so I am trying to make amends. I requested a copy of this book from NetGalley because I thought it sounded like an easy and funny read and it didn’t disappoint me in the slightest!

The story revolves around Polly (our protagonist) who, by the way, is completely fine. She’s single, turning thirty and only managed to have sex twice last year (both times with a Swedish banker called Fred), but seriously, she’s fine. Even if she’s stuck at Posh! magazine writing about royal babies and the chances of finding a plus one for her best friend’s wedding are looking worryingly slim.

But it’s a New Year, a new leaf and all that. Polly’s determined that over the next 365 days she’ll remember to shave her legs, drink less wine and generally get her s**t together. Her latest piece is on the infamous Jasper, Marquess of Milton, undoubtedly neither a plus one nor ‘the one’. She’s heard the stories and there’s no way she’ll succumb to his charms…

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

I really really enjoyed this book. No, honestly – it was extremely fun and the reviews on goodreads don’t do it justice. I gave it five stars because it made me laugh out laud and it was the perfect summer read. Enjoy it in a terrace with a a diet coke by your side and you’re in for a treat.

Polly was fabulous and I think the situations she faces are the same that a lot of women face when they’re in their late twenties / early thirties. It’s sad but a lot of us usually feel like a failure and we promise ourselves that we are going to do better next year: we’re going to sort everything out, we’re going to be ourselves, move forward, eat healthier, drink more water, crave less chocolate and find our place in the world.

Her thoughts were relatable, the characters were interesting and I think the book and story fulfil its purpose: it’s an easy, romantic comedy that is going to make you laugh and have a good time. It’s true that I could see what the outcome was going to be but it didn’t make the book less special.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and I cannot wait to see what the author’s next work will be.

You can read more about The Plus One on goodreads.
The novel is out next month but you can pre-order your copy now!

I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review