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

Book - 2016 | First edition.
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A scandalously honest guide to the secrets of Victorian womanhood. "If Unmentionable does not secure the Pulitzer Prize for Most Fascinating Book Ever, the whole gig is rigged. Therese Oneill opens the doors to everything we secretly wanted to know about the Victorian era, but didn't think to ask. Knickers with no crotches? Check. Arsenic as a facial scrub? Check. The infrequency of bathing and the stench of the Victorian human body? Check mate.
Publisher: New York :, Little, Brown and Company,, 2016.
Edition: First edition.
Branch Call Number: 305.40942 ONE
Characteristics: viii, 307 pages :,illustrations ;,22 cm.
Custom Field2: Includes bibliographical references (pages 303-307)
Hello, slattern -- Getting dressed : how to properly hide your shame -- Bowels into buckets : nature is an obscene caller -- The treacherous art of bathing -- Menstruation : you're doing it wrong -- Diet : you're a little bag of pudding -- Beauty : scorch, slather, and stuff -- Courtship : not-talking your way into his heart -- The wedding night, or : A bad bit of bumbo -- Birth control and other affronts to God -- Being a good wife : how to avoid his eventual resentment for as long as possible -- Running a proper household : the gentle art of dictatorship -- Public behavior : avoiding scorn, dangers, and museums -- It's hysterical : the least funny thing about Victorian life -- The secret vice : "Where warts and tiny nipples come from" -- Conclusion : I miss pants.


From Library Staff

List - Feminist killjoys
MomoT Jan 19, 2016

The challenges of womanhood are many but you want to try doing it in a corset, love. While this book is superficially about the nitty-gritty practicalities of life in "the olden days" it's very much through a modern feminist (and hilarious) lens.

Moata's pick: A 21st century guide to living as a Victorian lady. Cleanliness? Civil rights? You shan't be needing those, dear. Brilliantly sarcastic and feminist and I laughed SO MUCH.

MomoT Mar 21, 2017

This book is the perfect antidote to every "I wish I lived in the times of Little House on the Prairie-Anne of Green Gables-Little Women" compulsion you have ever felt. Snarky, hilarious and full to the brim with feminist observations, bizarre facts, and positively outrageous quotes fro... Read More »

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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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