Saturday 23 December 2017

Book ~ "Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners" (2016) Therese Oneill

From Goodreads ~ 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.)

Apparently everything we love about the Victorian age isn't real.  In this book, the author becomes our guide to the REAL nineteenth century.  She tells us what we need to know to survive ... about toilets (or the lack of them), how to bind and cloak one's wobbly bits enough to not get arrested for solicitation, and how to conduct oneself in society to not be sent to the ice baths of an insane asylum.  We receive a refresher course on how to relate with men, since it was the most significant part of a Victorian lady's life.  We arrive in the nineteenth century as a young woman of some wealth, European descent and living in America or Western Europe.

The topics/chapters include:
  1. Getting dressed:  how to properly hide your shame
  2. Bowels into buckets:  nature is an obscene caller
  3. The treacherous art of bathing
  4. Menstruation:  you're doing it wrong
  5. Diet:  you're a little bag of pudding
  6. Beauty:  Scorch, slather and stuff
  7. Courtship:  Not-talking your way into his heart
  8. The wedding night or a bad bit of bumbo
  9. Birth control and other affronts to God
  10. Being a good wife:  how to avoid his eventual resentment for as long as possible
  11. Running a proper household:  the gentle art of dictatorship
  12. Public behavior:  avoiding score, dangers and museums
  13. It's hysterical:  the least funny thing about Victoria life
  14. The secret vice:  Where warts and tiny nipples come from

There was a lot of information provided which I thought was presented in a fun and interesting way.  The author backed up her information by providing a bibliography in the back.  I liked the writing style ... it was amusing and sarcastic.  Throughout the book, there are pictures, ads, etc. depicting the time.

It's amazing what the "experts" believed at the time.  I'm so glad I didn't live in those times!

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