ISBN: 2747525244 Casebook Review:
In this short little book, Didier Chauvet (a librarian from Bordeaux) provides a quick but excellent overview of the generally-known facts surrounding the life of Mary Jane Kelly. Researchers have yet to locate the real Mary Kelly in census and birth records (though several putative Mary's have been found), but Chauvet presents the 'facts' of Kelly's life as given at her inquest and in police testimony.
A quick overview of East End social conditions begins the book, followed by Mary's 'biography' and an extensive look at the general facts surrounding her murder. Then a quick overview of the canonical Ripper murders (or, as Chauvet calls it, "The 71 Days of Terror") ends the book. Interspersed between the chapters are short poetic vignettes about Mary, written by the author.
Why a French book on Mary Kelly? I'm not sure. I'd hoped there would be some snippets of new information, possibly on the time she allegedly spent in France prior to settling in the East End. But alas, that wasn't the case.
There is no new information here, and Francophones would get a much greater overview of all aspects of the case from the writings of Stephane Bourgoine, but there is a certain quaintness and empathetic tone in this little book which makes it worthwhile reading. It is clear from both his prose and his poetry that Chauvet was deeply moved by Mary's story, and his enthusiasm shines through on every page. Again, nothing new, but an enjoyable read all the same.