The beast of poverty and disease had stalked Elizabeth all her life, waiting for the right moment to take her down. To survive, she listened to the two extremes within herself - Bess, the innocent child of hope, and Liza, the cynical, hard-bitten opportunist. While Bess paints rosy pictures of what lies ahead and Liza warns of dangers everywhere, the beast, in the guise of a man offering something better, circles closer.
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By Madelon Wilson on 15-08-17
Her Mantra, "Something better…"
I generally read everything in a book - the preface, the introduction, the author's note - everything. I find that these extras give me insight into the book as well as into the writer's intent. The author's note in SAY ANYTHING BUT YOUR PRAYERS has confirmed what I thought while reading the other three books in the Jack the Ripper Victim series. These are not novels of the crime and the criminal but rather of the women who only became known to the world by dying at his hand. I use the masculine pronoun for the same reason Alan Clark did… we know the vile murderer as Jack. If I were to classify these books, I would have to say that they are historical fiction not crime fiction.
Elizabeth Stride differed from the other victims in that she was not native to London. She was born in Sweden and was named Elizabeth Gustavsdotter. Going to London, after personal trials in Sweden, was to be her great adventure. Despite hardship, Clark has given Long Liz Stride a somewhat better life than the other victims. She also had a better death. As the third victim, and the first in the double event, Elizabeth did not suffer the same indignities the others did.
I made no special effort to read these in the order of their deaths. Each book stands on its own as a look at how these women may have lived their lives during a time when the haves and have nots were as different as night and day. Again, as in the book about Catherine Eddowes, OF THIMBLE AND THREAT, Elizabeth shows her awareness of the Whitechapel murderer.
Too often, the public at large is obsessed with the perpetrator of heinous acts. Thousands of pages have been written about Jack. Documentaries abound speculating on his identity. In all of this, there are a few public documents available for his victims, and, of course, their autopsy reports. I see the book in the Jack the Ripper Victim Series as a counterbalance to the fascination with evil.
I would be remiss if I didn't, once again, say how much the narrative performance of Alicia Rose enhances the writing. Her British accent adds a certain authenticity to the story of each victim. Despite the accent, she speaks clearly and with just the right amount of emotion to make listening a truly enlightening experience.
I would certainly encourage history buffs to read these books. Also, if you have even a passing interest in the ripper, you will find new context for the crimes. Remember, historical fiction is based in well-researched fact.