What would you do if you thought you had married a murderer?
He is my husband.
To honour and obey.
Until murder do us part.
London, 1888: Tormented by the death of her secret lover, Nurse Susannah Chapman rushes into marriage to a doctor. While attracted to her adoring, younger husband, she is more than aware her decision is at least partially driven by her ambition to escape a life of servitude to the labouring poor of the East End of London. After a passionate honeymoon, she returns home confident in her marriage. But then everything changes.
She quickly learns she has swapped her profession for a type of captivity; that of a Victorian middle-class housewife, feeling isolated in her home as her housekeeper refuses to acknowledge her as mistress. Her husband becomes increasingly volatile and distant, he stays out all night, returning home dark with secrets.
Following the first death in Whitechapel, Susannah’s interest is piqued. Lost in boredom and self-doubt, she becomes obsessed with the string of violent murders terrorising the city. Horrifyingly, she finds herself beginning to believe the charming young man she thought she had seduced for economic security, could well be involved in the crimes.
Is it coincidence? Or is her husband the man they call Jack the Ripper?
Susannah’s last remaining grandparent has died, so now alone, she decides to move to London and train to be a nurse.
Here she meets Thomas, a wealthy surgeon and after a whirlwind romance they marry. But, as soon as the honeymoon is over a different side of Thomas emerges. He’s moody, violent and abusive, he begins staying out all night, returning home bloodied and secretive.
Then, the murders begin in Whitechapel…..
Susannah begins to wonder if Thomas is the notorious Jack The Ripper……..and wants to find out.
This is historical fiction at its finest. Full of descriptions of the squalid life of the poor in Victorian London, the gruesome murders and the way women were treated at that time. There’s a mystery too and with the great characters, the marvellous plot with some shocks and surprises on the way, this is a totally immersive read. If you enjoy the books of Ambrose Parry and Bridget Collins, you are going to love this. A must read.
Thank you to Gabriella at Midas PR for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour, for the promotional material and an ARC of People Of Abandoned Character. This is my honest and unbiased review.
Purchase Link : https://amzn.to/2RS42f4
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Clare Whitfield is a UK-based writer living in a suburb where the main cultural landmark is a home store/Starbucks combo. Clare nurtures an obsession with female characters that are as much villain as hero, and enjoys lurking in the blurry landscape between perception and reality. She is the wife of a tattoo artist, mother of a small benign dictator and relies on her dog for emotional stability. Previously Clare has been a dancer, copywriter, amateur fire breather, buyer and a mediocre weightlifter. People of Abandoned Character is her first novel. Follow Clare on Twitter (@whitfield_riley) and Instagram (@clarerileywhitfield).
Praise for People of Abandoned Character:
‘An astonishing book set in a Victorian London plagued by Jack the Ripper. Whitfield’s narrator is Susannah, an ex-nurse who rushed into a rapidly souring marriage with a wealthy surgeon and starts to believe that her husband might be Leather Apron himself. I’d be amazed if it isn’t dominating the shortlists come next year’s awards season’ M.W.Craven.
People of Abandoned Character follows the journey of Susannah who shortly after becoming happily married begins to discover the real man she has committed to, as she delves further into the dark truth, she fears what she might find out next…Where is Thomas disappearing to late into the night, and why when he returns is there yet another reported murder? Could the man she married be the serial killer they call, Jack the Ripper? This novel gives a haunting new perspective to the well-known murder mystery. A dark and twisted tale, People of Abandoned Character explores toxic relationships and taps into our continued fascination with Jack the Ripper, while asking readers what would you do if you thought your husband was a murderer?
The Inspiration behind ‘People of Abandoned Character’ in Clare’s own words: ‘The book was initially inspired by Jack the Ripper, and newspaper articles from the time, which lead me to the idea that perhaps the Ripper may have been married. With this in mind, I wanted to create a complex and strong female protagonist who was prepared to do anything to keep her head above water, and succeed.
While based in a historical setting, the story has a contemporary appeal as the language is accessible, set in the Victorian era of the 1880s when years of austerity had taken their toll on the communities of an increasingly gentrified London. The novel explores the smoke and mirrors of perceived social mobility, the role of a wealthy society and their responsibility to the poor (or not as it may be the case), toxic relationships and narcissistic abuse, gender equality and freedom to pursue personal ambition.’