First of all, I really enjoy Brandy Purdy's writing and I did like the book, but The Ripper's Wife was not an easy read. There is considerable violence - both domestic and sexual - but, then we are talking about Jack the Ripper, so I think that should be expected, really.
A good deal of the book is written from Florie's point of view and she is a naive and pretty helpless character. I felt sorry for her for much of the book -- but it did get a bit wearisome that she just never seemed to realize what a horrible environment she and her children were living in. Granted, she had no income and was pretty much at the mercy of James and his completely awful family and servants, but still, I would have liked for her mother to help her before things went quite so far.
James Maybrick, Florie's husband, and in this book - the Ripper, is just the perfect villain. He is a drug addict who beats and rapes his wife, has mistresses on the side and is insanely and criminally jealous when she dares to have an affair of her own. Maybe half way through the book to almost the end, chapters switch between Florie and selections from the Ripper's diary -- a nasty bit of reading for sure. But, it does provide a look inside the workings of the killer's head and explains motive, opportunity and the other side of his life.
While Florie is flighty, fairly shallow, easily manipulated and weak-willed, she certainly didn't deserve the life she ended up with. No one does. At every turn she is thwarted in her desire for freedom and love and a life of her own. It isn't until late in her life that she finally seems to attain some semblance of a life she can enjoy. Such a sad life.
The descriptions of the city, the houses, clothes, lifestyles - everything are very well done. I could envision it all vividly - sometimes a bit too vividly. Even though it was a bit hard to read at times, I was still compelled to keep reading because I had to find out how poor Florie ended up. As with any Purdy book, it is well written. I would recommend The Ripper's Wife to adults who are interested in the topic of Jack the Ripper and the seedier side of London or the time period.