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Unmentionable

The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners
Narrated by: Betsy Foldes Meiman
Length: 7 hrs and 12 mins
4 out of 5 stars (43 ratings)

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Summary

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, 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, Unmentionable will inspire a whole new level of respect for Elizabeth Bennett, Scarlett 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, superabsorbency tampons, epidurals, antidepressants, and not dying of the syphilis your husband brought home.)

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2016 Therese Oneill (P)2016 Hachette Audio

Critic reviews

"A down-and-dirty perusal of the realities of hygiene and womanhood in the Victorian era. The truth behind slimming corsets, virtuous nuptials, and strict morals is sometimes shocking, occasionally alarming, but always funny with Oneill's wry commentary." ( Library Journal)
"Flat-out hysterical (and occasionally alarming).... Read it and be very, very glad you're a woman of modern times." ( Good Housekeeping)
"Oneill uncovers the filthy, untidy, licentious conditions of 19th-century women's lives that novelists of the period often glossed over." ( Elle)

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What members say

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Sorry just too American kitsch

This could have been an excellent view into the personal world of the Victorian woman and it is a very interesting era and the subject matter not really visited before, BUT oh dear, it's written like the author is a stand up comedian and not a very funny one. In addition the narrator has the most infuriating intonation!! Agggh!!! She sing songs her way along the subject matter and frankly condescends to the listener. It was like listening to a cat being strangled and I had to stop listening before I threw my phone at the wall. What a shame, as a woman I was finding the content fascinating but it was written and narrated in far too an American kitsch way.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Condescending

Found it patronising in tone, and various facts glossed over, or cherry-picked to fit in with the topic.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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hilariously entertaining

loved this, had me hooked from the start. wonderfully read, scarily grateful to be modern.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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loved!

i loved the playful narration and the book is full of fun and dreadful informatio

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Fabulous factual and funny insight

loved it. fantastic and frank look into the underbelly of a Victorian women's life. excellent performance and witty writing male this a very enjoyable listen

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disappointing

I struggled with the American narrator. Almost gave up. Had got a lot of potential which it didn't fulfill

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Charming

Utterly fascinating, Read with humour and wit and written in a delightfully original format, this will go on my list as one of my favourite audio books of all time.

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  • jb11
  • 13-12-17

I hope my review does this book justice.

I've been an Audible monthly member since 2000. That's almost 18 years of a book subscription. There are a very small handful that I return to, and THIS book has just shot to the top of that list. The trick to sidesplitting humor is cleverly finding and communicating certain truths. Our dear writer must've been in knots throughout the writing of this book. Her caustic wit expresses itself in such a way that illustrates absurdity PERFECTLY! The performer has proven herself to be the ideal match to this writer. Her inflections are spot on, and had me cracking up on a regular basis. If you've EVER thought that the 19th century was a romantic, dreamy era to live in, this will change your mind. I have no doubt that I've missed parts, so I'll be going back to make sure I catch everything. Again... and again... and again... Buy this book, you will not regret it! Oh, and the accompanying .pdf does not disappoint, either! I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • echan003
  • 19-04-17

Interesting and funny but, at times, repetitive

I enjoyed the book and can understand the choice for the narrator's tone but it became repetitive listening to her snippy comments. The point I most enjoyed was when she seemed to slip out of the Victorian character to express her disgust at one of the time's leading 'scientists'.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • J. Bell
  • 08-04-18

Starts out entertaining, grows tiresome

I was hoping for something far more historical in nature, and while I did find some interesting facts at the beginning of the book, the latter half became tiresome and hateful. Sarcasm is an excellent spice, but makes a poor main course.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • T. Keefe
  • 02-11-16

Humorous, Fun and Educational

I very much enjoyed how this book took the tone of speaking directly to a modern woman, instead of simply pumping out a multitude of facts.
It is rare to learn and be entertained - this book accomplishes both, without talking down to you.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • lisam5305
  • 28-03-18

couldn't finish it!

Any additional comments?

Although the narrator does a terrific job with the material, the amusing novelty of the constant "ick" factor grows tiresome after the first several chapters. I couldn't finish the book, but I did scroll through the PDF and I appreciate how well-researched it was. I am SO thankful not to have been born at that time! If, like me, you adore period films and books, this book will definitely give you a hard slap into reality. Shudder....

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kari M
  • 30-03-18

Ladies, we have it so good!

We really have come a long way, baby! This was so interesting. While I knew life was hard back then, I didn’t know the details. So many rules! So many ridiculous rules! And the male doctors! Try not to throw a fit in disgust, lest you be labeled hysterical. Totally worth a credit.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sarah E. Miller
  • 16-01-18

Hilarious and Disturbing

Very interesting read, spares no details. Prose is a little over-the-top but lots of fun!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tammico Cubie
  • 10-12-16

Every woman should have this book!!

The story and narration were both amazing. I want to have every book by her.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lady Willow
  • 15-11-16

So much fun!

I will happily await her next book! The irony is biting and the research, impressive.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Felicia J
  • 03-01-19

A social history told with tongue firmly in cheek

A laugh-out-loud romp through some of the more horrifying customs and advice of the Victorian era. At times the author lays the snark on a bit too thick, but for most of the book her tone is pitch-perfect. If you go into it expecting a humorous look at the era's etiquette manuals and medical treatises, rather than expecting an exhaustive, academic survey, you should enjoy it.

I was particularly surprised to find the Victorians discussed birth control more frankly than I had imagined. I was not particularly surprised to hear menstrual advice not so different than that given by some of today's sexist medical professionals.