Author: Therese O'Neil
Publisher: Little, Brown USA
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
Unmnetionable has been on my radar since last year, but for some reason I just now picked it up. I have no good reason for this because my flatmate read it and loved it. It was totally worth the wait though. I ended up putting another book on hold to finish it. Plus, I feel asleep reading it more times then I can remember. I've already recommended it coworkers and friends that read. So what made it so good?
Therese Oneill's voice as the narrator is my favorite part of this book. She's full of sass and sarcasm and I loved it. Her voice had me laughing out loud as I read, which made it hard to read in public. There was also some amazing one liners that I couldn't help to share with friends as I read via Instant Message. No one ever said learning couldn't be fun!
All fun aside though, I felt the book was well researched. Therese touched on topics that appear in many Victorian novels and movies: fashion, food, servants, and social cues. All topics I knew a little about, but not a lot. A few things that had been romanticized, that were in fact horrific. Which also kept me reading, because I got to the point thinking, it couldn't possibly get worse.
I felt like the book flowed well through each section. One chapter leading into the next. The addition of ads from the era, and photos, with the snarky caption were fun. Especially the ads, because it's amazing to think our grand mother's ingested some of those things. Chemicals that today we aren't even allowed to buy or illegal have in our homes.
But I think my favorite part was that the punches weren't held back. Movies, TV, and books show the better side of the Victorian era. They leave out the fact the women weren't consider more than pretty thing to sit that couldn't handle the world around them. Therese Oneill tells doesn't hold back about how bad things could be, but reminds us at the end that it in fact wasn't all bad. While it seems bad for women of this century, the back then didn't know any better.
Except for Mr. Kellogg, the more I learn about the man the more I wish I could travel back in time. Now there's a man I want to punch.
Despite everything I loved about the book there was a couple of things I didn't love so much. For me I felt like the chapters jumped around on the subject. There was a couple of times when I had reread pages to get back on track, and there a few times that it felt like chapters shifted from their subject matter.
All-in-all though I loved the book. I borrowed it from the library, but I'm adding this book to my library. It's definitely one I could see myself picking up again. Unmentionable is one of those books that because there's a lot of information, a second, or third, read could present things I missed the first time around.
Buy, Borrow, or Skip: Buy it! It's a fun book to have around and pass among your friends.