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Ungovernable: The Victorian Parent's Guide to Raising Flawless Children

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  630 ratings  ·  125 reviews
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 backwards, 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
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 16th 2019 by Little, Brown and Company
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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 ·  630 ratings  ·  125 reviews

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Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Yet another winner from Therese O'Neill. I read her prior book on Victorian sex and marriage and it was a wonderful mixture of true social history mixed with great snarkiness and was just so much fun while being very informative.

If I never see the words ' ass ' and ' mik ' put together again it will be too soon !!!

I did however learn how Lane Bryant came to be - it was a misspelling of Lena Bryant, who was the first seamstress to make maternity wear !!

Fun + education !

Isn't it frustrating when you're super excited about something and it doesn't meet your expectations? I'd had this on my TBR as soon as I saw that she was publishing another in her humorous exploration of Victorian times. Alas, this one didn't work out. Unmentionables-- loved and purchased for someone as a gift. This one-- grating and tiresome. Yes, I read it through (which I was going to abandon a few times), but because it provided some great primary source documentation of how "scientist
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Funny and irreverent, and highly informative, Therese Oneill has done it again! This fitting sequel to Unmentionable has a much different format and a slightly different tone, but I am happy to report that the snark is as strong as ever. In this unflinching look at Victorian parenting practices, told as a dialogue, many different aspects of parenting are explored. You might laugh, you might cry, but you’ll definitely learn something from this unforgettable historical sojourn. I would eagerly rea ...more
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Giving this to all baby showers to which I am invited from this point forward
Sep 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2019
Ugh. I picked up this book from the Library, giggling to myself with excitement. At first I thought this book was going to be a quick read for me.

It ended up that I just couldn't stand the format of the book (the Q&A) and the sarcastic comments.

I unfortunately could not finish this book. I found myself pretending to read more than I was actually absorbing and I gave this book a considerable number of chances.
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, humor
Just as tongue-in-cheek funny as the author's previous book on Victorian history, Unmentionable. I really hope she writes more of these! I listened to this one on audio and the narrators were FANTASTIC.
May 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
The snark was fun at first but wore thin rather quickly, and the history was sloppy.
Sarah {The Bookish Knitter}
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, audio, non-fiction
4 Stars
Amber Spencer
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was introduced to me by my sister. The introduction is hilarious and had me rolling.
I laughed out loud for most of the first half of the book. There are sad parts and things hard to hear - but it’s not just supposed to be a funny book, it’s also meant to compare and contrast against real things that happened.
Overall, this book is packed with wit and sarcasm and was very enjoyable. I will definitely be looking up the author’s other book about Victorian times.
May 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, humor
If Therese Oneill could lend her hilarious captions to all historical photos, I would be a very happy lady. This was a pretty funny read overall, but as many other goodreaders have pointed out, the Q&A format does not lend anything positive to this book and I think the topical approach in her last book was more effective. ...more
Jun 12, 2019 rated it liked it
**3.5 stars**

I was interested to see that this book was getting significantly worse reviews than the author's first book, Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners. And I think I can see why most readers found this uncomfortable reading...The Victorian times sucked.

They were dark, filthy, disease-ridden times with backward, abusive and sexist thinking. And that makes people, who have often times idealized it (whether from TV shows or romance novels) to face the fac
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Seriously, tho. It's good. Got pictures. BIG bibliography. Endpages are AWESOME. I could just go on forever.
Maren Anderson
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ungovernable by Therese Oneill made me laugh out loud while I cringed and wondered how enough humans survived the Victorian age (or anytime previous) to populate this planet. It's a cross between Charles Dickens and Dr. Spock (not MR. Spock) but narrated by my understanding, yet wryly witty, lactation coach.

This book takes the Bobsey Twins ideal of Victorian childhood and turns it on its ear. In a funny, patient, sardonic voice that isn't above also being aghast at the way children had to be rai
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

This book was packed with so much sarcasm that I could barely stand it! This book walks you through what times were like during the Victorian times as a woman and a mother. I loved the perspective from the “modern American woman” who was appalled about half of what the narrator enlightens us about. Times have certainly changed. If you’re looking for a comedy (and some knowledge about Victorian era pregnancies and child raising tips,) this is SUCH a good book!
Aug 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Even covering some topics that were pretty devastating (infant mortality, child abuse, starvation, etc.) this book managed to keep the humor alive through many aspects of child-rearing in Victorian times. I particularly enjoyed the Queen Victoria quotes about her son Leopold. Man, that lady could be so mean!
Mar 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, nonfiction
Interesting bits about Victorian attitudes about pregnancy, birth, and child rearing. Not a deep historical dive by any means. Some other reviewers absolutely hated the Q&A format, but it was incredibly conversational in tone, so it flowed well and didn't bother me. ...more
Melinda Borie
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Charming, quick, and very funny
Catherine Stein
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Like Unmentionable, this book was a brilliant blend of history and humor. The images and quotes from primary sources give a great insight into 19th century life, delivered with sarcastic wit. Lots of resources if you want to dig for further information.
Jul 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2019
While the information was cool/horrifying it just wasn't as good as the first one the author wrote. It was written in a question answer format which is part of the reason I don't think I liked it, and seemed to have not nearly as much actual research and information as the first.
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was freaking hilarious! Laughed my a$$ off through the entire thing. The author's wit and sarcasm are a real treat.
This was not as enjoyable as her first book. It did contain interesting information, but it felt very constrained due to the Q&A format, and possibly, the resource materials. I understand that O'Neill opted for the more extreme advice, which can be found in any era. I was disappointed in that there was no mention of the closed circuit theory (or something to that effect), in regard to women thinking too hard (say, about math) and it diverting too much blood to the brain and away from the uterus. ...more
Rachel Leff
Jun 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Thank you to the publisher for sending me an advance copy of this book. Because of the repetitive nature of the book it took me a very long time to get through. This book is one joke-haha victorian era was crazy!-stretched out over 265 pages. The question and answer format should have been quenched in the early stages of editing. The book could also be cut down about 100 pages to make it more tenable.
tracy lou
Jun 07, 2019 rated it liked it
While some might find the Q&A between a modern-day mom and a Victorian historian format of this book funny, I found it kind of boxy and pedantic. I also already knew a lot of this stuff from my life studying children’s literature. It was cool to think about how moms throughout time and space are held to impossible standards, though. ...more
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Victorian life was tough, back before child labor laws and science-based medicine. Kids were subject to beatings per the Bible, and given alcoholic and opiated medicines. Boys and girls were raised differently, with brutal competitive games for the boys and charm schooling for the girls. Odd beliefs about how to tell if one is pregnant abounded, since missing a period could be due to malnutrition, physical stress, or patent medicines. Superstitions about pregnancy (and it was quite unacceptable ...more
Allison Marks
May 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Too much wit ... not enough substance.
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Hilarious back and forth between a contemporary woman and an expert of Victorian childrearing.
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
What I have to tell you isn't nice, but it's the truth and people who want to understand their world don't ignore truth. - Therese Oneill, Ungovernable

I read and liked Unmentionable (the author's previous book about sex and sexuality in the Victorian era) a while ago, so I when I saw Ungovernable in the 2019 Black Friday sale I scooped it up right away and spent yesterday afternoon listening!

Ungovernable is a nonfiction book about Victorian era pregnancy and parenting aimed at a casual reader w
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was the second book by Therese Oneill, and Ungovernable did not disappoint.

Ungovernable is my favorite kind of Nonfiction book. Where you learn something you never knew, but in a ridiculous sort of way. It takes something that could be so clinical and dull, and cranks up the sass.

I have been waiting for what feels like forever for this book. Last year I stumpled across Therese Oneill's book Unmentionables, and devoured it on my patio. So to find out she was writing another Victorian Era boo
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating historical review set in a humorous Q&A style format. The author does an excellent job of bringing to light the harsh realities of raising children in the Victorian era, and how it isn't anywhere near as simple as people might think. Battling ailments (like pinworm), unsafe medical practices (like using heroin to treat pregnancy hemorrhoids), sexism (like the assumption that women were incapable to even thinking when on their periods), and so much more, the author illustrates how d ...more
This book is written in a sarcastic funny kind of way, so if sarcasm is not your thing, you should probably avoid it. I did enjoy the tone through most of the book, but by the time I got toward the end it felt a little repetitive.

The book was very informative, though. Sooooo much information about raising children in the Victorian age. Very many appalling things! Their diet, for one. Toast water, anyone? Rennet-whey? How did we survive?

Book Decription:
Feminist historian Therese Oneill is back,
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