The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners

Book - 2016
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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.)
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2016.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780316357913
Branch Call Number: 305.4209 ONEILL T
Characteristics: viii, 307 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm


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From Library Staff

So funny! So informative! So often a book I check out and keep at my house for the full check-out period without reading beyond the first few pages!

LPL_PolliK Sep 26, 2017

I love historical romances, but there are so many things NOT covered in those stories. Well, this book covers them. And EWWWWWWW! Funny (and gross) facts, but some really insightful historical facts about practices and people you might not have heard of. Did I mention funny? Oneill is hilarious. ... Read More »

A HILARIOUS book about what it was really like to live during the Victorian era.

A hilarious, tongue-in-cheek examination of the Victorian era and what it meant to be a real lady during that time period.

From the critics

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Sep 08, 2020

A humourous book on hygiene and sex in Victorian times

Nov 07, 2019

I found this a very annoying book. The author has turned up many interesting facts about the lifestyle of the 19th century and then presented them in a patronizing style that wears very thin after a few pages. Does she not realize that in a generation or two people will be looking back on our era in the light of their superior knowledge and be tut-tutting over our way of treating cancer or our birth control methods or speed-dating or whatever. Oneill seems to have assumed everyone’s mental picture of the 19th century comes from modern day bodice rippers and TV dramas and it is her job to set us right. In some places she has, deliberately or otherwise, misunderstood a contemporary quote. Grrr! A truly interesting topic very badly presented.

Oct 21, 2019

An educational and entertaining romp through personal etiquette for any proper Victorian lady -- from how to correctly dress yourself in endless required layers of clothing, keep up with personal hygiene without the aid of modern conveniences, beguile a husband and keep him happy, correctly seat everyone at a dinner party, and more. The author injects a snarky and robust sense of humor into what would otherwise have been a fairly depressing primer on the realities of life for an Englishwoman in the 1800s.

STPL_JessH Sep 13, 2019

This book was laugh out loud funny in many chapters! I really enjoyed Oneill's writing. That said, I was disappointed by the lack of notes. I am sure this was a choice made for "the ease of reading" but I would have preferred more context for some of the claims made.

I was also disappointed that Oneill focused almost entirely on white women. She shies away from a discussion of slave labour saying something like "we'll just leave that in history." I'm not sure if this is because her focus is privileged women's lives or if she is just hesitant to add her voice to a discourse about the daily lives of women who were enslaved? If you're reading this book for historical context, best to choose a more reputable source. If you are interested in an absolutely hilarious and fun read, then this book is for you!

Jan 29, 2019

If you are at all curios about what it was "really" like for women back in the Victorian era - Then - Therese Oneill's brutally frank and equally humorous book "Unmentionable" should provide you with some very eye-opening answers.

Believe me - This graphically revealing book of non-fiction concerning etiquette, marriage, and sex for the Victorian woman is sure to alter your outlook on a period in history that, until now, was always thought to be so neat, tidy, and wholesome.

Dec 22, 2018

To be used for Victorian era scenes -- 1985, Shahzadah Nasrullah's visit with Queen Victoria

Dec 04, 2018

Author gleefully take away rose tinted glasses off of fans of Regency Romance, Victorian British literature & certain manor TV series and stomped on them. Reality of back then so nauseating, but it make me wonder the health craziness & plastic surgery happy of the elites today.

Nov 21, 2018

Are you ready for the "Unmentionable"??

Containing numerous illustrations, along with some scandalous honesty, and plenty of biting wit - "Unmentionable" bravely opens up the doors to the reality of what it was "really" like being a woman back in the Victorian era.

And, let me tell ya - It certainly wasn't the sweet, neat, purified, wholesome period in history that you've been erroneously led to believe that it was. No way.

Written by humorist, Therese ONeill - "Unmentionable" is (Indeed) a real eye-opening look at the past, especially from the angles of sex, marriage, and manners.

Apr 15, 2018

A great read that brings you back in time... smells, sights and horrors. You will appreciate all that modern day has to offer after reading this hilarious book!

LiztheLibrarian Feb 14, 2018

This book was both very informative and entertaining, and truly horrifying. What people believed as far as science, health, etc was startlingly wrong.

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