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The Ripper's Wife

The Ripper's Wife

4.2 5
by Brandy Purdy

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A suspenseful, spellbinding novel of love, jealousy, and murder, The Ripper's Wife reimagines the most notorious serial killer in history through the eyes of the woman who sealed his fate.

"Love makes sane men mad and can turn a gentle man into a fiend."

It begins as a fairytale romance—a shipboard meeting in 1880 between vivacious Southern


A suspenseful, spellbinding novel of love, jealousy, and murder, The Ripper's Wife reimagines the most notorious serial killer in history through the eyes of the woman who sealed his fate.

"Love makes sane men mad and can turn a gentle man into a fiend."

It begins as a fairytale romance—a shipboard meeting in 1880 between vivacious Southern belle Florence Chandler and handsome English cotton broker James Maybrick. Courtship and a lavish wedding soon follow, and the couple settles into an affluent Liverpool suburb.

From the first, their marriage is doomed by lies. Florie, hardly the heiress her scheming mother portrayed, is treated as an outsider by fashionable English society. James's secrets are infinitely darker—he has a mistress, an arsenic addiction, and a vicious temper. But Florie has no inkling of her husband's depravity until she discovers his diary—and in it, a litany of bloody deeds. . .

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Purdy’s (The Boleyn Wife) latest is a dark recreation of London’s autumn of 1888, when Jack the Ripper terrorized Whitechapel. The novel begins as an affected and slightly overdone love story between the young, beautiful, and well-traveled American Florie Chandler and the English cotton merchant James Maybrick. However, their happy Liverpool home is not what it appears: Florie is friendless, regarded as opportunistic and fraudulent; the servants are in collusion, maliciously controlling the home and the children; and James is an adulterous arsenic addict and secret psychopath with a vicious, hair-trigger temper. When James discovers that Florie has a lover, he becomes the legendary Ripper, trolling for victims and murdering by “proxy” in order not to kill Florie, his children’s mother. Raging with jealously and delusions, James descends deeper into madness. The violent beatings James give Florie are disturbing, calling forth a time when physical abuse was winked at and used to make women “behave.” Ill and remorseful, James confesses to Florie through his diary. Events move quickly toward the end, with a sensational trial, imprisonment, poverty, and seclusion. Purdy’s story has suspense, complex characters, and the requisite gore of a recycled Ripper. (Nov.)

Product Details

Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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Read an Excerpt

The Ripper's Wife



Copyright © 2014 Brandy Purdy
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7582-8890-5


It began with a shipboard romance, the sort of thing you might find in any romantic novel, play, or film. From time immemorial it always seems to have been the rule that when presenting romance to the masses, the hero and heroine must meet in a memorable manner, something amusing, adorable, or antagonistic, that will spawn an entertaining anecdote they can regale their friends and relations with for years to come. But happily ever after really depends upon where you end your story.

Did you ever sit and wonder what happens to the lovers locked in a passionate embrace after the gilt-fringed curtain goes down or the words The End appear upon the silver screen? Does Prince Charming really love and adore his Cinderella forevermore, forsaking all others as long as they both shall live, till death they do part? Or does he, sooner or later, exert his royal and manly prerogative and take a mistress, an ambitious lady-in-waiting, a buxom, bawdy laundress, or a pretty little actress perhaps? Are we really expected to believe that the noble bluebloods of the court accept a former servant girl as their queen? The young and naïve never think or worry about such things; when you're only eighteen it's easy to believe in love lasting "forever" and "happily ever after."

The setting was picture-postcard perfect—a spick-and-span new steamship, part of the prestigious White Star Line, all fresh paint, varnish, and high-gloss polish, a veritable floating palace, with a buff-colored funnel belching steam high above our heads, regally bearing us across the ocean from New York to Liverpool. The SS Baltic might have steamed right off one of those popular souvenir postcards almost everyone in those days collected. It was all that perfect— gilt-edged perfect! It was the perfect place to fall in love!

Looking back now, in hindsight after six decades, if I were to cast the movie of my life, I might have been pert, blond, and vivacious Carole Lombard, champagne bubbly in a bustle and ringlets with an Alabama belle's molasses accent, dense and sweet, and he might have been dignified and debonair, sedately suave William Powell, a little staid and stodgy perhaps—some might even have gone so far as to call him "pompous"—but with a ready smile, a wry sense of humor, and a twinkle in his eye. He made my heart flutter and skip like a schoolgirl! With a tall silk hat and a diamond horseshoe sparkling in his silk cravat, dapper in a dark suit straight from Savile Row, patent-leather boots, and immaculate dove-gray gloves and matching spats, he was every inch a gentleman.

I suppose I must sound awfully silly, but every time he looked at me it was like receiving a valentine. Pictures of hearts, Cupids, cooing doves, clasping hands, and bouquets of flowers and boxes of chocolates tied up with red and pink satin bows filled my head like a bewildering array of pretty cards on display in a stationer's shop, and I just didn't know which one to choose, and in truth I didn't want to. I wanted them all. I wanted him! He was everything I had ever dreamed of. Or perhaps the sadder and wiser and much older me of today should correct the gauche green girl of yesteryear and say that he represented everything I had ever wanted. In those days, it was all about appearances. In society, style trumped substance every time.

It was March 11, 1880. Like the date inside a wedding ring, it is engraved upon my memory and heart. How could I ever forget? It was the day my life changed forever.

I was eighteen, bubbling over with high castle in the clouds, hopes and champagne dreams—intoxicating, sensuous, thrilling, and sweet. A living doll—I think at almost eighty I'm old enough to say that now without seeming vain—who always saw the world through rose-colored glasses. I was a dainty little thing, with a curvaceous corseted hourglass figure, tiny waist bracketed by generous bosom and hips, dressed in the latest Parisian fashions, with gleaming golden ringlets, violet-blue eyes that provoked my many beaus to say that they would make forget-me-nots droop and weep with envy, sugar-pink rosebud lips just longing to be kissed, the white magnolia blossom skin we women of the South prized so, and ankles and wrists so tiny and trim. I was a delicious little dish!

It seemed as though I had spent my entire life hiding under shady hats and veils to keep the sun from singeing me with its hot, crisp, baking kiss, and being scrubbed down vigorously with buttermilk and lemon juice in a never-ending crusade against freckles. And for the blemishes that seemed to erupt whenever I was overly excited or anxious Dr. Greggs prescribed a face wash of elderflower water, tincture of benzoin, and just a little arsenic. Not enough to hurt, he assured me in his kind, grandfatherly way when I shrank back and fearfully demurred when he handed me the prescription, remembering a play I had seen about an evil, scheming woman who had put arsenic in her boring old fuddy-duddy husband's soup so she would be free to abscond with her lover, a worthless but excruciatingly handsome lounge lizard with hair like black patent leather who danced like a dream and never threw away the love letters foolish women sent him lest he have to do something so menial and mundane as work for a living. I relished every thrilling, wicked moment of it and had sat through it five times, in wide-eyed wonderment, leaning forward in my seat, even though it made my stays pinch, anxiously nibbling my nails and a bag of toffee.

Despite being a seasoned traveler, a habitué of sophisticated Parisian salons and worldly European circles, and a rather sporadic attendance at a deluxe Swiss school for affluent young ladies in Vevey where I did little more than sit in the garden, eat chocolates, dabble in watercolors, devour romance novels, and gaze at the breathtaking vista of blue lakes and snowcapped mountains and dream until I graduated at sixteen, I was never blasé or jaded. In those days, I exuded a bewitching, bewildering blend of innocence and confidence, shyness and sophistication. I wore them like a halo that protected me like Saint Michael's shield. I glided through life endowed with the sweet certainty that nothing bad could possibly ever happen to me. I believed in the innate goodness of people; I trusted in the kindness of strangers and was eager to like everyone and wanted them to like me. I gladly proffered my trust until I was given reason to withdraw it. But even then I never stopped believing that most people truly are good at heart, though they might sometimes behave badly because they were hurting inside or driven by some dark or desperate compulsion or circumstances I was not privy to. I wished them well and accepted their failings and flaws as endearing little foibles and went on believing that good would eventually triumph over whatever darkness assailed their poor souls. I didn't believe in evil then; to me the Devil was just another storybook villain; I never thought I'd end up dancing, or sleeping, with him.

I was traveling with Mama, the bountiful-hearted and -bosomed, white-blond, violet-blue-eyed Baroness Caroline von Roques, a worldly-wise Alabama-born beauty whose numerous admirers always poetically declared that her hair was like a field of our Southern cotton silvered under a full moon, and my brother, the handsome gilt-haired "Alabama Adonis," Dr. Holbrook St. John Chandler.

We had just left New York, where we had been spending time with dear old friends and making new ones, adding to our collection of admirers, the candy boxes, bouquets, and books of sonnets they sent us with declarations of undying devotion piling up high in our hotel sitting room, and just having a grand giddy ol' time. It had been a whirlwind visit filled with lavish luncheons, society teas, and dinner parties, fancy dress balls, the theater and opera, daily shopping excursions, tailors and dressmakers appointments, brisk canters in the park on proud, high-stepping steeds that would have delighted my cavalry officer stepfather if he had been with us, and thrilling race meets where we all wagered recklessly on the ponies and gave our handkerchiefs and little charms for good luck to the handsomest of the jockeys. All Mama had to do was smile and mention our cousins the Vanderbilts and all doors instantly opened for us and credit was graciously and generously extended at all the best stores.

We planned to do much the same thing in London before we returned to Paris, which we worldly wanderers were pleased to call our home, though more for stylistic reasons than any fixed address, and where "Handsome Holbrook" had his medical practice, his waiting room packed with excited and excitable females all suffering from some form of womanly or nervous complaint.

Just like one might expect in a play or a film, James Maybrick literally swept me off my dainty little feet. It was our first night out to sea. I was so excited. I loved ocean travel. It never made me ill. I had already lost count of the number of times I had crossed. Though I had a fine collection of postcards, souvenirs of all the ships I had sailed upon, I had never bothered to count them. I was eager to purchase one of the SS Baltic to paste into my album and explore every splendid inch of this magnificent 420-foot ship; Captain Parsnell had already promised me a personal tour. He commended my daring and adventurous spirit. I wasn't even afraid to venture down into the belly of the beast to see the boiler room manned by sweaty bare-chested stokers black faced with coal dust and rippling with hard muscles.

In a new gown of Wedgwood-blue satin with a wide white embroidered chinoiserie border edging the full, draped skirt, and a waterfall of white silk roses, blue ribbon streamers, and cascades of snowy lace falling from my bustle, I was hurrying from my stateroom. I had dallied too long over dressing, fussing and fidgeting, dancing around the room, humming love songs, and making sure I was perfect in every way.

The leather soles of my blue satin slippers pattered and my taffeta petticoats rustled like a flock of bellicose doves as I raced to the dining saloon.

On the companionway there was a moment of sheer panic when all of a sudden I seemed to go from stairs to air. I felt myself falling, and then, just as suddenly, I was safe, my quivering body cradled in a pair of strong masculine arms.

When I dared open my eyes, a diamond horseshoe was winking at me from a gentleman's black silk tie. He's caught me in his arms like he has his luck in that glittering U, I thought. Slowly, I raised my eyes to see a pink mouth smiling at me from beneath a dapper mustache, so deep a brown it was deceptively black, carefully formed and waxed beneath a fine patrician nose, and then I was staring into a pair of intense dark eyes, sharp and sure as a surgeon's knife, I vividly recall thinking. My unknown savior held me like a bride about to be carried over the threshold of her new home. My bosom heaved, but I couldn't breathe. I felt all aflame, as though I'd just emerged from a visit to the boiler room. I felt the perspiration pool between my breasts and a flaming blush dye my cheeks a pepper-hot red. I couldn't speak. My tongue felt like a clumsy knot of wet pink ribbons. I must be scarlet as a lobster and seem about as dumb as one! I thought. Where, oh where was that coy, flirtatious, smiling miss I had always been with my beaus? I needed her!

Before the gentleman and I could exchange a single word—surely I would have said something soon!—General Hazard and his wife were upon us, reaching out to me with the most tender concern. Exclaiming that they had seen the whole thing and watched in heart-stopping horror as I began to plummet but hadn't been able to reach me in time.

The Hazards were like an uncle and aunt to me; they kept homes in New Orleans and Liverpool on account of the General's dealings in the cotton trade, and we had often visited and traveled with them. The General and Mrs. Hazard both suffered from rheumatism and other age-related infirmities and loved to go anywhere they might enjoy the baths, luxuriating in the hot, sulfurous waters and sipping mineral-rich tonics, being pampered by nice doctors, who brought sweet dreams instead of nightmares to one's bedside and never prescribed nasty medicines, pretty, smiling nurses in starched white caps and uniforms that rustled like angels' wings, and sure-fingered muscular masseurs with faces fit for magazine covers but bodies that looked poised to enter the boxing ring. Mama and I had accompanied the Hazards to several fashionable spas and sampled such delights for ourselves, though neither one of us was ailing and we were both in the bright bloom of health. But it was always fun to be petted and pampered, especially by such nice, attractive people.

"Florie! Oh my dear, I'm trembling still! When I saw you start to fall my heart stopped!" Mrs. Hazard exclaimed, patting her heart through her black bombazine bodice.

"Thank heaven you were here, Jim, to save our Florie," General Hazard was saying to my gallant savior, mopping his worried brow and frowning beneath the upside-down horseshoe of his droopy pewter mustache. "If it hadn't been for my gout, my heels would have spouted wings and I would've caught you myself, my dear!"

I felt my slippers touch solid ground again. I was on my feet, and still flustered and speechless. What was wrong with me? Mrs. Hazard's arm was around my waist, and I was leaning weakly against her, ever so grateful for her support, as I didn't quite trust my feet, and introductions were being made.

His name was James Maybrick; he was a wealthy cotton broker with offices in Norfolk, Virginia, and England's prosperous port city of Liverpool, where he was born and still made his home. The Hazards had known him for years. The General had often done business with him and enjoyed his hospitality at the Liverpool Cricket Club, and Mrs. Hazard had lost count of all the times he'd shared their table. They were clearly very impressed with him. "Solid as a rock, my dear! You need have no fears about James Maybrick!" Mrs. Hazard assured Mama when she took her aside and asked for his particulars.

After that, we were almost constantly together, sitting in the deck chairs, wrapped in warm tartan flannel blankets, deep in conversation over steaming cups of tea or beef broth, or just leaning back, resting and enjoying the salty sea air; strolling the promenade deck, a proud pair of seasoned travelers, smilingly reassuring those of our fellow passengers who were nervous and green; playing cards; dining and dancing; sitting beside each other, our fingers sometimes discreetly, daringly, entwining, at the ship's concerts; or with our two heads bowed over a single hymnal during religious services. Every evening Mr. Maybrick would call for me at my stateroom and escort me in to supper and then, afterward, to the ladies saloon for coffee and conversation, while he retired to the smoking room for brandy and cigars with the other gentlemen. Then he would retrieve me for a moonlit stroll before seeing me safely back to my stateroom.

The attraction was instantaneous; we were like two moths drawn to the same flame. But no one seemed to understand; they all accounted it some great mystery, like some dime museum oddity in which some element of chicanery might be commingled with the wonderment it inspired. All were in agreement as to why Mr. Maybrick should be so smitten with a ravishing young belle like me, but when they looked at him all they could see was a portly, paunchy, pasty, middle-aged Englishman who talked a great deal about cotton and horse racing. Were they all blind and deaf? Why couldn't they hear his enthusiasm and see how when he smiled he lit up like a jack-o'-lantern? He was like a great big overgrown boy, and my heart just wanted to reach out and hug him. I couldn't help but love him. Their confusion was the conundrum, not my feelings!

They made so much of the fact that he was forty-two and I a mere eighteen. I didn't understand all those frowns and behind our backs whispers that had a way of always reaching my ears, all those muffled murmurs about pretty babies being snatched from cradles. In the South where I was born and spent my early childhood, husbands were often considerably older than their wives, and in the sophisticated European society I had grown accustomed to in my teens this was also commonplace; I had met men in their seventies with wives my age.


Excerpted from The Ripper's Wife by BRANDY PURDY. Copyright © 2014 Brandy Purdy. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Ripper's Wife 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
SEStone519 More than 1 year ago
Florence Chandler believed that she stepped off the ship in England and into a fairy-tale marriage. Her Prince Charming, an English cotton broker named James Maybrick, seems to adore her above all else. His love makes living in stuffy and unfriendly English high-society bearable. But little by little, Florence realizes that her husband has a temper, an addiction to dangerous medications, and an unrelenting desire for mistresses. Those flaws end up not being the worst of his secrets, though. Because the discovery of her husband’s diary reveals the a list of bloody deeds that she can’t deny because they’re written in his own hand. With a title like The Ripper’s Wife and the summary, I started this book thinking that I’d be a fast-paced thriller. That wasn’t the case. This book instead chronicled the events leading up to the main character receiving her husband’s diary while also showing pages from the diary. That was a bit disappointing. I will say that even though the main character didn’t step up to the plate like I would have hoped, she did have a character arc that made sense both with the time period and her personality. The Ripper’s Wife was a hard book for me to get into reading. The writing rule of “show, don’t tell” wasn’t followed at all with this story,and I can’t remember a single scene that happened on the page in front of me. The main character, and then her husband in the diary portions, told the entire story to the reader. There wasn’t any immersion in the scenes for me as the reader, meaning that there were no descriptions of smells, how food tasted, the facial expressions or body movement. The tension in the story and the downward spiral of the characters’ lives were eventually enough to get me interested and let me finish the book. But getting to that point was pretty challenging. Another reader who enjoys realistic fiction with plots that happen because of a character’s decisions socially will probably like The Ripper’s Wife. If you’re looking for a thriller with a whole lot of action, this book doesn’t fit the bill. Rating: 3/5 The Ripper’s Wife by Brandy Purdy is published by Kensington Books and is available in paperback. **I received an advanced copy of this book in return for an unbiased review.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
The Ripper’s Wife, a most definite page turner, is a richly written, dark, novel about the life of Florence Maybrick, the wife of a man suspected of being Jack the Ripper. The story closely follows the actual circumstances of their lives and the sensational trial that followed. The pages are decorated with brilliant and detailed descriptions of fashion, architecture, and home décor of the Victorian era. Told in the first person narrative of Florence Maybrick, author Brandy Purdy delves deep into the mind and thoughts of this young wife whose marriage slowly falls apart because of addictions, affairs, rage, cannibalism, and violence.  This book is not for the feint of heart. The murder of the five prostitute victims of Jack the Ripper are graphically described, as is the deranged mind of the killer. No book can be darker, so be forewarned. Should you have the fortitude and courage to venture forward and read this lush tale, you will find it beautifully written, strongly told, and bold in every way. Having read all of Brandy Purdy’s books, I have to say this is the very best she has produced. Definitely very, very highly recommended.
Griperang72a More than 1 year ago
I have to start by saying I am a fan of Brandy's book and writing style. She has a way of pulling me into her books and not letting go. You can tell she does a lot of research when writing her books as it shows in the details. The author did a great job of showing us a view of "Jack the Ripper's" wife. I can not imagine what Florie thought when she found her husband's diary and all of his gruesome secrets written within. I do have to tell you that this book is a little more dark than some of Brandy's other books but in my opinion it has to be to tell the story right. Also this story is very graphic and there is some language use in it that some may not approve of so just be aware of that when going to read this story. I do not fault the author for it one bit because as I said I think it was necessary in the telling of the story. I think she did such a great job that if I did not know for sure I would think this is the true story and not a historical fiction book. Full of suspense, thrills and mystery this is a definate page turner. I am looking forward to the next book I read from Brandy Purdy.
amybooksy More than 1 year ago
The Ripper's Wife is my favorite book written by Brandy Purdy. She truly brings to life who Jack the Ripper was. Her imagination who he and his wife were was spectacular. I kept finding myself learning more about who James and Florence Maybrick really were, who were actually part of London society. Even though, the book is fiction, I think the author's vision made it seem believable. The only con I had with the book was that it had more profanity and sexual scenes I prefer in my books. 4 1/2 stars.
gaele More than 1 year ago
A twist on my more usual and familiar historical fiction reads, Brandy Purdy has taken two people from the time of Jack the Ripper in London, and used her imagination and research to build this story.  James and Florrie Maybrick were real people, and lived an interesting life until his death, ostensibly at her hand.  Those interested in the lore surrounding the Ripper murders, and curious about the various theories put forward as to the identity of “Jack” will find this story an interesting diversion, with some clever insets and additions to the story.  Told from Florrie’s perspective, this southern-born American wanted nothing more than to live a fairy tale life as a titled woman in England.  When she met James her plans were set in motion.  Well-to-do, James was a cotton merchant, and in need of a wife.  Far from a hearts and flowers courtship or relationship, these two characters are almost entirely without redeeming features, and engender zero sympathy.  But, they are compelling nonetheless, it is watching a train wreck, knowing that no good can come from either of them, but you are entertained.  Savage and vividly detailed Purdy does not stint on graphic description of gore, violence or getting the ‘feel’ of London’s less “well-heeled’ areas at all. The story is dark and disturbing, and while I could not come close to identifying or caring about the Maybricks, I did want to see something happen that would present a sense of ‘they got their comeuppance’ in this story.  Sadly, that didn’t really happen, and I was left with more questions and a solid feel that it does take all kinds of people, and there are all kinds in this world.  What Purdy did, to great effect, was give the murder victims a voice, face and story: so many of the popular stories treat these women as little more than footnotes: prostitutes and poor, they aren’t worth more.  Purdy created backstories and makes us see them as people, making the murders more gruesome with this added connection. It is difficult to fully engage in a story without characters to care about or identify with, and the addition of the victims does give a tenuous connection to the story. And that was the saving grace for me: while Purdy’s writing was well crafted and nuanced with careful phrasing choices, the characters in this story were just not ones I could connect with or appreciate: they had no redeeming features. Despite that, the book was intriguing and held my interest, even with several breaks from the overwhelming dark and gruesome imagery.  I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.