Therese Oneill, whose book, Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage and Manners, was an eye opening, critical and very entertaining account of advice for 19th Century women, returns with an equally candid, funny and often frightening look at life’s next obvious stage: child rearing. Ungovernable: The Victorian Parent’s Guide to Raising Flawless Children (Little, Brown) is based on advice the author discovered in medical books and articles from the period.
“The narrator's obvious enjoyment in sharing vintage expert opinions increases as particularly horrifying facts regarding baby farms, beatings, and heroin for expectant mothers pile up, rendering the imaginary listener nearly speechless. Oneill probes each topic with a Lemony Snicket-like tone and candor, revealing how some of these beliefs eventually evolved into improved girls' education and a kinder approach to discipline. One part sauciness, one part frankness, and one part sweet relief that readers live in the present, Oneill's book provides readers with a liberal dose of medical and women's history that's well worth taking” -Publishers Weekly.