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Mary Jane Kelly

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Offline Billy Helston
12 Feb 2018, 12:51 PM | Post: #1

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Mary Jane Kelly

Billy Helston The Story of Mary Jane Kelly 
Mary Jane Kelly, youngest victim of Jack the Ripper, sustained a murderous assault so horrific her lover could only identify her by her hair and eyes. She travelled from Ireland, to Wales and France. She lived in the West End of London, wore gowns of embroidered silk, and rode in fine carriages. Jack the Ripper ended her life in a squalid room, in the meanest street, in the most overcrowded, and deprived borough of London – Whitechapel. This is the Mary Kelly story.

Mercedes Marie : The story of Mary Jane Kelly
The dreadful events in Miller’s Court are only touched on at the end of this novel. For most of the book Billy Helston concerns herself with Mary Kelly’s life growing up in a colliery village near Wrexham and her years as a prostitute in Cardiff, London, and Paris. On the surface it’s a gritty tale of Victorian working class life shaped by poverty, tragedy, and violence. But what gives this novel special resonance is the author’s perceptive evocation of the close-knit mining communities of north Wales and the impoverished neighbourhoods of the East End: she delineates wonderfully the ties of love, resentment, need, and sympathy that bind people together and the reserves of toughness and compassion they draw on to survive. What starts out as the story of an ‘ordinary’ life in the Denbighshire hills quickly develops into something much bigger: by delving deeply into one person’s tragedy, Mercedes Marie illuminates broader truths about life and death.
Familiar figures jostle for space with characters not usually associated with the Mary Kelly story, such as Charlie Hammond, the violent landlord of the Cleveland Street brothel, and Alfred Long, the Metropolitan police constable who strikes up an intense bond with Mary. Helston has her own ideas about the identities of Mary Kelly and Jack the Ripper, and at the back of the book (separate from the story) there is a hefty appendix containing census data, newspaper reports, explanatory notes, and other material. 
The book is full of sorrow and anguish, but there is humour as well, and bawdiness, and warmth. Even amid the brutality and the drab routine of Mary Kelly’s life there are small triumphs and moments of joy and surprise - a slice of Dundee cake in a Marylebone café, a dwarf in a Paris whorehouse with a parrot on its shoulder, Welsh dragons caught in the flue at Miller’s CourtRipperologist NO 151 [i]August 2016 Ripper Fiction Reviews, DAVID GREEN[/i]