Book Review: “The Five: The Untold Lives Of The Women Killed By Jack The Ripper” by Hallie Rubenhold

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Hello!

Last month I was able to four books at one time, and as you might’ve seen in my review for Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, I mentioned that I really wanted to get into that spooky vibe that October always seems to bring and so this was a great addition to the lineup, although I did feel sad as I was finishing it but I will explain in detail later on the post.

For now, let’s move on to the blurb of the story.


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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.

taken from Goodreads.

There were a number of things I actually liked about this book. The first has to be the introduction: the author gave you an idea of how the time of the Jack The Ripper killings, a year after the Queen Victoria’s Jubilee celebrations in 1887. You have a great reference of showcasing the glamor and luxuries of the royals but the darkside of her people, the lives of the victims are less infamous as they were all assumed to be prostitutes, but here they are up front and you really get to see how much a person, whether they are male or female, had to live in that era.

My second is the question that I seemed to have while reading the beginning of each of the women’s lives, which was, “how did it go wrong?” and for most, they were addicted to alcohol. Apparently it was very easy to get a drink, whereas having the resources to find birth control was not, and at this point the two were mixed and unfortunately had sad consequences, like experiencing the heartbreak of multiple stillbirths and children born with disabilities. The main reason why many lives were consumed to the alcohol were because of the many tragedies that came into their homes, whether it was their parents, siblings, or their own children; a way of coping with the guilt or pain was to drink it all away.

However, the drawback of a person, especially a woman with a family of her own, depending on the drink to cope with life’s struggles made her into a “fallen woman” if she would rather rely on the thirst or be at the heart of her family, good wife to her husband. Unfortunately, if the husband and father was also using the same coping mechanism, he wouldn’t be judged the same way as his wife. He could be open to his vices, if he could still hold down a job and pay his rent to the landlords. However, if the drink became too much, it was most likely the wives would be cast out of the home rather than the husband. The double standards of the Victorian era reigned heavily over the lives in London.

I want to say, I have looked up the women before, but have never once focused my attention on who they were; the notion that all five were considered “whores” really set me off about them and when I decided to give this a go, I was more focused on the nature of ‘The Ripper’ even as I talked it over with my mom, but once I finished I quickly realized everything that happened was real. Since there are five victims, I ended up having favorites, which I felt horrible at the time (and honestly still do!) because I saw the same things happening over and over again but with a different name and social class. My three favorites were: Annie, Elisabeth and Catherine or Katie as she was called in the book.

If you haven’t read this book, you should definitely put it on your list, and despite the fact that Halloween is now over with, it doesn’t mean you need to wait because autumn in general puts me in the mood for these kinds of books anyway. Oh, and you can also read it for the rest of ‘Nonfiction November’ theme too!

Have you read this book before? If you have, what were your thoughts about it?

snowflake

Book Review: “Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson

Hello!

Since ending my original reading challenge for the year in July, I’ve only finished one book for August and September, but October was a little different. I continue to read multiple books at the same time but I’m not going through them as quickly as I did in the beginning of the year. I find it a little weird but I think if I can finish out the year with 25 books is an awesome accomplishment!

Last month I found a book that I’ve been wanting to read for a very long time, since probably 2015, but I never saw it on the shelves at Wal-Mart after it came out (and trust me, I searched for it!) so it has been a part of my TBR list for much longer than I wanted it to. However, I was going through Prime Reading one day and just scrolling through and there I saw that beautiful cover that has basically been plastered into my depths of my mind for the past six years, and I knew I just had to get it.


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They were the most prominent American family of the twentieth century. The daughter they secreted away made all the difference.

Joe and Rose Kennedy’s strikingly beautiful daughter Rosemary attended exclusive schools, was presented as a debutante to the Queen of England, and traveled the world with her high-spirited sisters. And yet, Rosemary was intellectually disabled — a secret fiercely guarded by her powerful and glamorous family. Major new sources — Rose Kennedy’s diaries and correspondence, school and doctors’ letters, and exclusive family interviews — bring Rosemary alive as a girl adored but left far behind by her competitive siblings. Kate Larson reveals both the sensitive care Rose and Joe gave to Rosemary and then — as the family’s standing reached an apex — the often desperate and duplicitous arrangements the Kennedys made to keep her away from home as she became increasingly intractable in her early twenties. Finally, Larson illuminates Joe’s decision to have Rosemary lobotomized at age twenty-three, and the family’s complicity in keeping the secret. Rosemary delivers a profoundly moving coda: JFK visited Rosemary for the first time while campaigning in the Midwest; she had been living isolated in a Wisconsin institution for nearly twenty years. Only then did the siblings understand what had happened to Rosemary and bring her home for loving family visits. It was a reckoning that inspired them to direct attention to the plight of the disabled, transforming the lives of millions.

taken from Goodreads.

I may not be interested in politics, but there have been a few Presidents in the past that I have enjoyed learning about over the years–some were forced because of school but my love for the Kennedy’s has always been something I’ve grown to learn about on my own. Since I am a history lover, the story about the Kennedy family has been like my other obsession’s; where I have to watch every documentary and movie about them. Thanks to this though, I did have some knowledge about Rosemary Kennedy but it honestly wasn’t much until I was able to read this book by Kate Clifford Larson that I really got a bitter sense about Rosemary in general but also the ins and outs of the elite American families in the mid-1900’s!

I think there are many things to keep in mind about reading this book, Rosemary was born in early 1918, at a time where disability as a whole was looked down upon by everybody. Despite the fact that Rose and Joe Kennedy chose to keep her at home with their family, it wasn’t the norm back then. Some families were very embarrassed by any kind of imperfection, especially a family that was in the media a lot through aristocratic events and political campaigns. She was taught to be a lady out in public and Kate does make a point to say how much Rosemary loved to dress up and dance with various boys, who wouldn’t know she was disabled at all because she carried herself in such a way that she had to be absolutely perfect.

When I started reading, I began to really feel for both Rose and Joe, because in a way they reminded me of my own parents. They didn’t quite know what to do with this child, who is completely different than other children they have been around. Although Rosemary had two older brothers, I had two older cousins so my folks clearly knew I was going to have more challenges to deal with compared to them. The differences between Rosemary and I, she went to various Catholic owned schools in the Boston area, plus a boarding school in England whereas I stayed in two schools close to home. I was put in a number of special needs classes while in school but I was also taking regular classes as well. My disability was mainly physical, not mentally but I would still occasionally socialize with kids who had one or other and sometimes both too.

There were a lot of stuff that I was happy about, like when Joe Jr. and Jack would take Rosemary to dances and actually dance with their younger sister. They seemed to really care for her, technically all of the Kennedy children absolutely adored her! The two sisters Rosemary was basically paired up with all through her life were Kathleen or Kick as she was called by family and close friends, and Eunice. Rosemary and Kick went to a debutante ball in England when Joe Kennedy was an Ambassador for the United States just before World War II broke out. The author mentions how much Rosemary was like her mother Rose on her love of fashion, but the fact that she made such a positive impact on everyone to the King George VI and Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, to the press and rest of the families invited to the huge event makes you think how much jealous could have been produced among the sisters.

Now there is a chapter that I really grew to hate, and it is titled “November 1941” and this date is significant because this was when Rosemary Kennedy was changed forever after having the a new operation: it is called a “lobotomy” and although this is a known to have happened to her now, but only one person is known to make the decision for her to have it done. Let’s just say that I lost faith in this person afterwards. I was so angered by the result of it and found out how this person died to be a little bit of karma working some magic later on in their life.

Anyways, I did have a favorite chapter and it was the last – which was “Rosemary Made The Difference” and this was such a great section because as much as the Kennedy clan didn’t want to make their work about creating better medical discoveries, school teachings, and other resources for mental challenged people to be defined by Rosemary, but they were clearly inspired by everything she went through all through her life but also what her siblings saw as well. Eunice Kennedy was able to do a lot in the small amount of time while both of her brothers Jack and Robert Kennedy were in office as President and Senator respectively, like creating the Special Olympics! Rosemary’s youngest sibling Ted Kennedy was also responsible for getting the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) into law in 1990.

Rosemary is at the heart of everything, without her, I feel like the Kennedy name would be extremely different. Everybody knows about the ‘curse’ that plaques this family. but more people need to know about Rosemary, the ups and downs on how it was like (and still is) to be disabled in a world where everyone has to fit a certain mold to be accepted into society and that was the main reason why I wanted to talk about of these chapters on here.

I hope you check out this book whether or not you are as obsessed about The Kennedys. If you are taking part in Nonfiction November, or if you are interested in learning about mental disabilities throughout history, maybe you should consider giving this a chance. I hope you enjoy!

Have you read “Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter” by Kate Clifford Larson yet? If you have, what were your thoughts about it?

snowflake

Special Places To Travel

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I’ve been in this world long enough to know that one day that if the chance would ever happen, I would love to travel the world. One of my fellow blogger friends, Niki asked a question on her Facebook yesterday that I started thinking about all day, even though I basically gave her like three sentences when she probably only wanted one or two words of the places that you want to go that’s on your bucket list. She posted that she wants to go to Paris one day. Well, that got to thinking about not really where I want to go, but the places I don’t want to visit in which a lot of people would be surprised that I don’t want to see one day.

For my answer that I put on her picture was that I would love to visit: Scotland, India, Egypt, Poland, Germany, and Australia. They all have their own reasons too. Scotland and Egypt are mostly history obsessions that I have, India is purely a culture trip, I have a friend that lives in Poland and I would love to see her country and be able to visit her favorite places, my nana’s family is from Germany and so I have a small ounce of myself attached to that country and Australia is just a vacation trip I would want to take one day. I’m weird like that. If you were to look on my actual bucket list, it would show I have a few other hot spots I’d like to visit, but those are the top for me. I do have a few places that I just don’t want to experience at all.

Sadly, Paris, France is one of those places. Paris is the city of love or whatever. Unless I got married and his parents offered to pay to take us to Paris, that might be the only way I’d go, but willingly Paris isn’t a place for me. Funny thing is, I’ve felt like this for a long time. I’ve never felt attached to it in any way shape or form. I don’t doubt that I could change my mind about it later on in life, but right now. It’s a definite no. The other place is New York City, which is interesting because I would love to see a real fashion show one day, but that would be only way I would go there too. I’ve always been puzzled that I’ve never wanted to go there because it has a lot of history and classy places that I have seen on TV and seen in pictures, but I still don’t want to go there and see them for myself. The last one is South Africa, and I have no idea why, because I think it would be an exotic and interesting trip to go on, but there’s nothing that is pulling me in yet. It’s really strange! There are two places that I’ve been on the fence about, they are Colorado and Hawaii. My papaw was stationed there when he was in the army back in the day, he likes to talk about his favorite places and what he did there, but I think I’d only want to see if those places are still around and then go back on the place to go home. And Colorado, I don’t like cold weather and it also might the ski resorts pushing me away from ever visiting there too.

I’m very picky, ain’t I? I think it’s means more if we have real reasons to be going to different places than just going somewhere for vacation and when you come back to your home, you’re sad that your time has ended. When my family and I went to Florida, we went solely for Disney World, it was the coolest place for kids and teenagers. It brings that inner child back to you instantly. The things we got to do was amazing too. The little community we were in was just cozy. When we came back, of course we were sad that it had ended but between the pictures, our memories, and feelings that we felt never really went away. At least mine didn’t. I think that’s why I pick places that I know would be great to feel peaceful and exciting at the same time. Also, the nature around is another kicker, I want to enjoy what’s around me and take it all in. Something inside me is telling me Scotland, India, Egypt, Poland, Germany, and Australia would be those kinds of places that would give me everything I’d ever want in visiting an exotic place.