Some of you may have read my review of Book One and my anticipation of Book Two. To recap these books are the fictional writings based upon the few facts we have about Jack The Ripper’s final victim, Mary Jane Kelly – but as with book one, do not expect an investigative book.
Book Two sees us start with Mary’s arrival in London, following her hasty departure from the perils of destitute life in Cardiff. With nothing more than a business card and a hope of something better she knocks at the door of the upmarket dwelling which turns out to be a house catering to the more kinked pleasures of Victorian Gentleman [and some women], where flirtations, tableaux, and mild masochism are on offer, with flesh pleasures at the discretion of the girl herself. All it ticking along nicely until events take a bloody turn. From this point of fear, stress and desperation put Mary on a downward spiral to unimaginable levels [although for some in our modern times, even with the welfare state, things have not changed, just a little cleaner]. Chance meetings with people who on the face of it befriend her but also have one eye on using and cheating her.
Reading both books, one thing is ardently clear, once you were down on your luck, reduced to a lower standard of living it was highly unlikely to ever progress upward and you would most likely be drawn deeper down into the impoverished slums of despair. Into a world of oppression, of debt or villainy. We tend to think of the lower working class in London as being of one type, but there were many levels within that class, according to your work, your living accommodation and where you frequented, there were classes within the class – with attitudes to match.
Interestingly and somewhat cunningly the writer weaves in a possible and, if like me you are not conversant with the facts of the Ripper, plausible theory about the killings and the final twist is straight out of modern day possibilities but you can understand why at the time such a thing would have been unthinkable.
The ‘Happy-Ever-After’ plot sideline, for me, was a little too sugary, but that is because I do not buy into such happenings, but yet again, the idea is not without plausibility and merit. It gives the reader hope because you do feel for Mary.
Whether it was my heightened level of expectation after book one, or whether it was the book itself, I do not know, but I did not find this second book quite as page turningly gripping – perhaps I should have read two straight after finishing one. Having said all that, still give this a 4 1/2 star rating – I am just a little sad that ‘ColdSouthwoldian’ is no longer a BCUK blogger so I can thank him for the recommendation.
Next book – Wind In The Willows.