“Do you dance, Mr. Darcy?” asked Elizabeth Bennett, “Not if I can help it.” replied Mr. Darcy in the movie adaptation of the book Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. If you have had the opportunity to watch this Victorian era story did you harbor thoughts of the era being romantic and maybe a place a time you might want to visit and experience? Well, please read this new book by Therese Oneill titled Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners.
If nothing else, this book will dispel many of these romantic notions fostered by many Victorian era films and fiction. In this book Oneill provides you exposure to all those personal, private, and not discussed elements of being a Victorian era woman! She begins the morning rituals with chapters such as Getting Dressed, The Treacherous Art of Bathing, Diet, Beauty, and progresses to others including Courtship, The Wedding Night, Being a Good Wife, Public Behavior, and The Secret Vice. The author presents information in the guise of a guide who transports a 21st century woman with the romantic notions of experiencing a Victorian woman life, into the 19th century. The 21st century woman is introduced to and experiences the life of the Victorian woman, which are contrasted with her life in the modern world. Oh what a contrast.
Therese Oneill presents this information with humor, pathos for the 21st century woman, all the while never flinching from the down-to-earth details of that 19th century life. She acknowledges the difficulties in obtaining the details as much was not discussed publicly, but was able to fill five pages with sources/references. This book is fun to read, flows rapidly, is well written, is thoroughly presented with significant detail (if occasionally a little slow), is informative, enlightening, and enjoyable. For those with a loved one enamored with this era, the next time you find yourself sitting through a similar movie, present this book (if you dare) as something to share with them.
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