• Unmentionable

  • The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners
  • By: Therese Oneill
  • Narrated by: Betsy Foldes Meiman
  • Length: 7 hrs and 12 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (799 ratings)

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Publisher's 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 listeners say about Unmentionable

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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!!!

28 people found this helpful

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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.

13 people found this helpful

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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'.

8 people found this helpful

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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.

4 people found this helpful

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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....

4 people found this helpful

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Hilarious and Disturbing

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

4 people found this helpful

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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.

8 people found this helpful

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Every woman should have this book!!

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

2 people found this helpful

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So much fun!

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

2 people found this helpful

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Great... until the Worshipping of Margaret Sanger

I REALLY really REALLY wanted to love this book. As a long time lover of historical novels but also a curious sort, the questions of how women used the toilet in all those skirts and what people wiped with were always poking holes in the illusions of “romantic victorian heroes and heroines.”

It was great... and then she started talking about eugenics. Fine, okay, it was an interest in the Victorian era - eugenics are the reason we have so many dog “breeds” as different as the Great Dane and the chihuahua.

Then she mentioned Sanger, a devout racist and anti-black reproductive activist. Yup, the woman responsible for all Planned Parenthood’s that eliminate more than half of the black American population every year. The author mentioned her a few times, but she also mentioned Kellog (responsible for the popularism of circumcision) so I didn’t mind. History is full of influential bad people.

Then came the line, “women being impregnated by drunk abusive husbands” and I was lost to any ability to enjoy the book.

Believe what you may but I for one stand with the true suffragettes of the Victorian age, like Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Victoria Woodhull, and Elizabeth Blackwell - women who viewed abortion as the crime against human rights that it is.

Modern leftists who value progress for the sake of progress would probably enjoy this book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mrs B
  • 07-31-17

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.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Heather Buchanan
  • 01-02-18

Condescending

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

5 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-06-18

disappointing

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

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tink
  • 08-03-17

hilariously entertaining

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

1 person found this helpful

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  • Franklymydarling
  • 10-31-20

A Victorian romp with modern humour

A great listen! It’s informative, funny and keeps the listeners attention throughout. I’d definitely listen to more by this author.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-01-20

not many books have me giggling like this one.

the narrator makes this book come to life. There is such a humour that is also informative that I have already recommended this to all my friends. looking forward to listening to the sequel.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • lucie richardson
  • 02-08-20

Great subject matter, horrific format and narration

This had potential to be a very interesting listen, I just can’t bring myself to finish it.
The sing song narration, fake laughing, terrible jokes, poor pronunciation. I just can’t listen any more.

The author should have taken notes from authors like Anne d’Courcy, Ruth Goodman, Lucy Worsley, Hallie Rubenhold - who all put social history into the sort of book or tale that you can’t put down. This one I can’t wait to refund!

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  • Kasia
  • 05-11-19

loved!

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

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-22-18

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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  • R. woods
  • 07-05-17

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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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-28-19

love this!

the writers quirky sense of humor is captured perfectly by the narrator. I'm learning and having a giggle at the same time.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 04-30-18

You've Been Sassed

This was both a highly entertaining audiobook, but also very depressing history lesson.

The narrator was Sass Queen, and helped you overlook the shitty plight of being a woman in the nineteenth century. It's a very narrow focus in terms of the types of women it discusses - mainly ladies - but it does cover a bunch of topics.

I ended up listening to it at x1.5 speed to get through it and it was still easy to understand.

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  • Emma Pooley
  • 01-29-18

Great book - though the narrative an acquired taste.

Thought this was a really interesting take on the life of women in Victorian times. The narrator did take a bit of getting used to, and perhaps is not the style I would originally have expected but I overcame that in the end. I recommend this for everyone who wants an insight into the less pleasant aspects of or ancestors lives.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-12-17

A fabulously entertaining look on history

This book was not only immensely enjoyable and humorous, but provided an insight into the period of history which shaped us today. The conclusion brought to attention the importance of equality and freedom for women and how we must continue to appreciate how far we have come but also work towards achieving even more equality in our western world.