Monday, March 6, 2017

*Review* #BeatTheBacklist - Unmentionable by Therese Oneill

Genre: Nonfiction
Published: October 25, 2016
Pages: 309


Have you ever wished you could live in an earlier, more romantic era? 

Ladies, welcome to the 19th century, where there's arsenic in your face cream, a pot of cold pee sits under your bed, and all of your underwear is crotchless. (Why? Shush, dear. A lady doesn't question.) 

UNMENTIONABLE is your hilarious, illustrated, scandalously honest (yet never crass) guide to the secrets of Victorian womanhood, giving you detailed advice on: 

~ What to wear 
~ Where to relieve yourself 
~ How to conceal your loathsome addiction to menstruating 
~ What to expect on your wedding night 
~ How to be the perfect Victorian wife 
~ Why masturbating will kill you 
~ And more

Irresistibly charming, laugh-out-loud funny, and featuring nearly 200 images from Victorian publications, UNMENTIONABLE will inspire a whole new level of respect for Elizabeth Bennett, Scarlet O'Hara, Jane Eyre, and all of our great, great grandmothers. 

(And it just might leave you feeling ecstatically grateful to live in an age of pants, super absorbency tampons, epidurals, anti-depressants, and not-dying-of-the-syphilis-your-husband-brought-home.) 


I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program in the hopes that I would leave an honest review. This was a book win that I was super excited about. 

I spent a significant amount of time while reading this book wondering just what led to the creation of this book. Curious just what thought process led the author to all of this research. I even started imagining that the author was originally planning on writing like a Pride and Prejudice sequel (those are rather popular after all), but wanted to make sure she had ALL the details right, then a simple search for "How often did Victorian women bathe?" led to "How did Victorian women handle menstruation?" and all the other stuff that is included in this book. And it's a lot. Honestly, if you're an author who wants to write realistically about women during the Victorian era, read this book first. It's packed with info. 

I loved the tone of voice the author used for relaying all of the tedious details about life during the Victorian era. The level of snark was pleasing to me. Parenthetical interjections like the ones in the synopsis were used quite liberally, and it's a good thing too, because sometimes I had a hard time wrapping my mind around some of the quotes used from books written about women's health in the 1800s. Without the author's sassy quips, I might have had to re-read several sections a few times just to make sense of it. 

My one issue with the book is that sometimes the writing felt a little stilted (typically when the 19th century books were being quoted) and it slowed down my reading some. I really thought I would read this book faster than I did because I was so interested in the information it was promising me, but then the actual dispensing of the information wasn't quite as interesting as I'd hoped. That's really probably not the author's fault, but it was my experience. 

Overall I give Unmentionable 4 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Buy the Book

About the Author

Therese Oneill lives in Oregon and writes humor and rare history articles for many different popular outlets, including Mental Floss, The Week, The Atlantic, and Jezebel. She lives with her husband and children near Portland. She can be found online at where she runs a popular history and narrative blog.

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