http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Fortunes-Grace-Hammer-Underworld/dp/0099520958/ref=sr_1_sc_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1399825898&sr=8-3-spell&keywords=SaraStockbridge

I just wanted to put a heads-up for this wonderful, wonderful book. The author, Sara Stockbridgemuse as they say to Vivienne Westwood back in the 1980’s.  This is a good read, easily one of the most gripping novels I have read for a long, long time.

Stockbridge grips you right from the start, we follow the adventures of one Grace Hammer and her young family. A single mum. Not a prostitute. She pick pockets for a living but keeps a respectable and tidy household and disciplines her youngsters.
The story of Jack The Ripper touches us here and there, Grace knew many of the victims, Annie Chapman, Mary Kelly  – and this gives the whole story a real context – it makes it feel true. Accurate it certainly is.
This is a great story, and the so called ‘lust’ mentioned on the cover is not exploitative – Stockbridge deals with sex very matter of factly, very realistically, sensitively even at times,  and in fact there is mention of the villain Blunt ‘soiling’ a prostitute’s skirt and perhaps more than any other paragraph, sums up bad sex as a parallel in a way for the bad guy – this is all that he is capable of.
Although I guess this is an ‘adult’ novel it is a welcome break from the full-on relentless exploitation that we all endure now on a daily 24 hour basis, Cole Porter could be the reference point  “a glimpse of stocking is something shocking” – that’s more refreshing than you think !
A great read, a great escape to Victorian Whitechapel – this is indeed time travel, you can smell the dirt and feel the damp. Quite brilliant.
I do hope there is a sequel.

Aside : We are currently “excited” by the theory that Sir John Williams, founder of the National Library of Wales was the Ripper – something the Library really and most definitely  does NOT promote.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4456437.stm

http://www.casebook.org/suspects/dr-john-williams.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2432987/Jack-Ripper-Queen-Victorias-surgeon-Sir-John-Williams-claims-book-written-victims-descendant.html

Check out this video of Stockbridge on Youtube – it sums up that thing of having attitude, Rebellion , subversion, history, context – an appreciation of art, culture, sub-culture, Cultural Reference Points. Anybody who grew up with Punk, Post-Punk, The Face will get this…

And even in this short interview, a little over 2 minutes, again Stockbridge gets the points in, most would not do this, manage to do this, want to make that point – she gets the word ‘intelligent’ in and ‘cultural’.
It is this intelligence in fact, that makes Stockbridge shine brightly on the Cultural Landscape…

See also Westwood Reel 1988