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Publisher's Summary

From the author of the "hysterically funny and unsettlingly fascinating"* New York Times best seller Unmentionable, a hilarious illustrated guide to the secrets of Victorian child-rearing [*Jenny Lawson]

Feminist historian Therese Oneill is back, to educate you on what to expect when you're expecting...a Victorian baby! In Ungovernable, Oneill conducts an unforgettable tour through the backward, pseudoscientific, downright bizarre parenting fashions of the Victorians, advising us on:

  • How to be sure you're not too ugly, sickly, or stupid to breed
  • What positions and room decor will help you conceive a son
  • How much beer, wine, cyanide, and heroin to consume while pregnant
  • How to select the best peasant teat for your child
  • Which foods won't turn your children into sexual deviants
  • And so much more

Endlessly surprising, wickedly funny, and filled with juicy historical tidbits and images, Ungovernable provides much-needed perspective on - and comic relief from - the age-old struggle to bring up baby.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Therese Oneill (P)2019 Hachette Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"An entertaining look at Victorian-era parenting advice...Oneill's irreverent guide is a reality check for those who might romanticize the era of strict self-discipline and unchallenged parental authority." (The Washington Post)

"This wild ride through 19th-century child-rearing is an exploration of anal worms, strange tinctures, inappropriate education, child labor, and questionable food stuffs. Readers will learn the altogether shocking practices of Victorian parenthood-and be reminded that people did live to tell the tale.... The author's breezy style strikes an amusing and marked contrast with the subject matter, which hopefully keeps readers focused on their successes as modern, enlightened parents-which the Victorians also considered themselves, a fact that is slyly related in delicious irony. While Oneill will likely not supplant Spock and Brazelton, she may well set parents at ease in her own hilarious way." (Booklist)

"Unmentionable transports us back to the world of middle-class 19th-century women, with special emphasis on the messy details that costume dramas airbrush out.... With a 4-year-old's scatological glee, Oneill details the logistics of old-time peeing, pooping, gestating, menstruating and mating... Oneill has dug up some lovely tidbits from the dustbin of history." (New York Times)

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What listeners say about Ungovernable

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Unexpected and Hilarious

The conversational style this book uses was rather unexpected, but really pleasant. It also has quite a few hilarious quips that made me snicker loudly at my desk.

8 people found this helpful

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Not as good as its predecessor

It might be because much of what was in this book isn't as surprising as one would think after learning about women's daily life in Unmentionable, but this book didn't quite have the hold on me that Unmentionable had. Still, I'd recommend this to anyone interested in the psychology behind childbearing and childrearing, and the unique way in which it is told lends more to this audible entry than most books of this type. And, the author, as before, does a good job of taking you out of contemporary thought and into the mind of a Victorian, bringing you to appreciate the difference of how you think you would feel, and how you would truly, actually feel as a true-as-blood Victorian.

5 people found this helpful

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I've been waiting So long for this!!!

I listen to this audiobook all in one sitting! I have been waiting for this sentence I read the book unmentionable! this is definitely one of my absolute favorite audiobooks that I have ever listened to. I highly recommend Therese Oneill and her amazing narrators! if you haven't already check out the proceeding book unmentionable! It's even More enthralling!

5 people found this helpful

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Great style, content, and reader

Really love how the conversational style of the author is delivered by the reader. Both do a great job and this audiobook is worth your time.. The author digs up forgotten information and brings it back into the light. Fascinating stuff!

3 people found this helpful

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perfect for childbirth (for sarcasm/irony likers)

We listened to it during the labour at our daughter's birth, and it was great!!! Well read, too.

2 people found this helpful

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History in an entertaining way

I bought this book after listening to Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners.
Both are written and performed in an entertaining way that draws you into enjoying history.

1 person found this helpful

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Riddled with male bashing

I am a female and and was shocked by the blatant male bashing throughout this book. Every aspect of life during the turn of the century was difficult. Life was HARD. Count your blessings for your present instead of blaming men for the past. I wish this author took the material more seriously but it was impossible to ignore the chip on her shoulder. I have no intention of paying for this audiobook as I do not wish for the author to receive a penny of my hard earned money.

5 people found this helpful

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The narration was lovely- the subject matter dark

This narrator was able to portray the absolute horribleness of the victorian age very well. The secondary narrator was good.

Listening to some of this was hard. Not going to sugarcoat that. The way kids were treated was horrible.

The worst chapters were the toward the end and I wish that actual people did not live through that.

I noticed that some people were not happy that this book went the route of using humor to share this information, but I think it helped get the message across.

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Annoying

I don’t like this book at all. The writer’s tone is very annoying. It tries t hard to be cute or cool.

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Great narration!

This book was a lot of fun even with disgusting topics like pinworms! The narrator did an amazing job.