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Victorian Secrets Audiobook

Victorian Secrets: What a Corset Taught Me about the Past, the Present, and Myself

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Audible Editor Reviews

Sarah A. Chrisman uses her own journey with wearing the body-shaping undergarment known as the corset to explore the lessons that Victorian styles and notions can teach modern women. Chrisman, initially hesitant to don the garment with the possible chauvinistic implications and physical burdens it carries, found it in fact to give her a certain confidence and to illuminate ideas about feminism and sexuality that were hitherto absent from her daily life. Kristen Kalbi deftly performs this account that dips into history and big ideas with a personal tenor, making it feel like her own journal.

Publisher's Summary

A true story about discovering positive selfhood, from a woman who moved beyond stereotypes to explore the world of corsetry firsthand.

On Sarah A. Chrisman's 29th birthday, her husband, Gabriel, presented her with a corset. The material and the design were breathtakingly beautiful, but her mind immediately filled with unwelcome views. Although she had been in love with the Victorian era all her life, she had specifically asked her husband not to buy her a corset - ever. She'd heard how corsets affected the female body and what they represented, and she wanted none of it.

However, Chrisman agreed to try on the garment . . . and found it surprisingly enjoyable. The corset, she realized, was a tool of empowerment - not oppression. After a year of wearing a corset on a daily basis, her waist had gone from thirty-two inches to twenty-two inches, she was experiencing fewer migraines, and her posture improved. She had successfully transformed her body, her dress, and her lifestyle into that of a Victorian woman - and everyone was asking about it.

In Victorian Secrets, Chrisman explains how a garment from the past led to a change in not only the way she viewed herself, but also the ways she understood the major differences between the cultures of twenty-first-century and nineteenth-century America. The desire to delve further into the Victorian lifestyle provided Chrisman with new insight into issues of body image and how women, past and present, have seen and continue to see themselves.

©2013 Sarah A. Chrisman (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (29 )
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3.9 (28 )
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4.3 (27 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Sara 09-08-14
    Sara 09-08-14

    Avid Reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Exploration of Vanity"

    I tried this book as an interesting diversion into the world of historic dress which has become a growing phenomenon. Blogs about historic clothing construction, dress-up dances, parties and conferences are on the rise these days. These discussions and events deal with the smallest details needed to recreate historic garb. This book was well written and nicely narrated.

    The problem lies in the fact that the author may have exposed too much of the inner workings of her thoughts, marriage and life to the reader. The extremes the author was willing to take in order to wear antique garments, shoes and reproductions and appear beautiful was surprising. The quickness and harshness of her judgements of other people encountered day to day was painful. The idea that she "knew" what others were thinking about her and their motives became a window into a deeper issue all together. For me it was just too much raw information and vanity exposed and in the end felt embarrassing.

    If you like loads of intimate personal detail, and an uncensored, often unkind stream of thoughts retold you might enjoy this listen. To me, pretty is as pretty does.

    26 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    darlingkit Central, USA 04-27-14
    darlingkit Central, USA 04-27-14 Member Since 2011

    darlingkit

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    "A real disappointment"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    This book sounded condescending to all humanity besides herself and her husband. The entire story Sarah Chrisman's tells is self serving and had such a negative tone about all of the world around her. She was comfortable with labeling others, name calling "Ms Polyester" and "Mr. Tomato Head" and criticizing ffreely most of the people she encountered. The reading contributed to the negative tone. I was so looking forward to something delightful and charming, positive, and liberating.


    What could Sarah A. Chrisman have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    She tried too hard to convince the world how much of a liberated woman she is and just enjoyed telling her story. Everyone else is portrayed as idiots. She obviously gained self confidence and a greater sense of of self, it is such a shame.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Kristin Kalbli’s performances?

    No I would not be willing to listen to her again. I wonder if the reading was what cast such a negative tone to the reading of the book.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Victorian Secrets?

    The migraine, so boring.


    Any additional comments?

    I couldn't wait for the book to end so I could write this review. I listen to so many wonderful books. This is just a great disappointment. I guess with the sales of this book she can have more custom corsets made, get a 1 bedroom apartment, and her own wi-fi.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Thompson 10-16-14
    S. Thompson 10-16-14 Member Since 2016
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    "Frustration holding hands with enlightenment"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    A better editor that had the courage to save the author the embarrassment of revealing more personal issues than probably she probably meant to.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    So much of the story is boasting and complaining about "posers" and it really detracts from the well written meat. The author writes quite well and I really enjoyed her progress into a Victorian lifestyle. I just wish some of the personal opinions had remained personal. It made me really dislike the author while thoroughly appreciating her journey. I would definitely take out the migraine chapter as well as the foot breaking chapter. Too much fodder for her to impress her abhorrence for the "general public" into the story.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Yes


    Do you think Victorian Secrets needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    I would actually love a follow up. Her writing style is right up my alley but a little more maturity would be wonderful.


    Any additional comments?

    My opinion of the story flip flopped so many times. I'm glad I stuck it out and finished this audio book because by the end of the story I kind of understood where she was going.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessica Lakeport, CA, United States 04-08-14
    Jessica Lakeport, CA, United States 04-08-14 Member Since 2011
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    "It's no more than promised but not what hoped"
    What disappointed you about Victorian Secrets?

    Sarah Chrisman says herself that she wrote this because she answered the same questions constantly about her corset wearing and associated lifestyle. It is as promised. However, I can't help but feel this book lacked a good editor. It feels almost passive aggressive, with every person who (admittedly rudely) questioned or criticized her personal fashion/body/lifestyle choices described as ignorant, ugly or having bad taste or questionable life choices themselves. She dislikes negative attention but clearly enjoys attention. This book read like having a long lunch with a self centered friend who never tired of talking about themselves or lecturing endlessly on topics they see themselves as an expert in.


    What about Kristin Kalbli’s performance did you like?

    Great voice, very pleasant and clear.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Slightly disappointing.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Girdwood, AK, United States 04-21-15
    Susan Girdwood, AK, United States 04-21-15 Member Since 2011
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    "A wonderful listen"
    Where does Victorian Secrets rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I'm taking a break from the "Outlander" series to listen to Victorian secrets.
    I loved everything about this book and hoping there are more to come.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Victorian Secrets?

    When Sarah was willing to give the corset a change against her previous doubts and fell in love with it.


    Have you listened to any of Kristin Kalbli’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When her husband Gabriel went all in.


    Any additional comments?

    Sarah is a fabulous role model for woman.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer 08-09-14 Member Since 2016

    Just an Excentric Dirt Lawyer

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    "This is a fun memoir of a year in a corset."

    If you like non-conformists, this is a bit of fun. She is eccentric, but always interesting.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David San Jose, CA United States 02-21-14
    David San Jose, CA United States 02-21-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Surprisingly good"

    A very delightful and unusual book. I learned a lot of subtleties of Victorian dress. The author has a lovely command of the English language. The grace she cultivates in her manner and dress comes through in her language.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful

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