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Too Much: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  644 ratings  ·  141 reviews
Lacing cultural criticism, Victorian literature, and storytelling together, "TOO MUCH spills over: with intellect, with sparkling prose, and with the brainy arguments of Vorona Cote, who posits that women are all, in some way or another, still susceptible to being called too much." (Esmé Weijun Wang)

A weeping woman is a monster. So too is a fat woman, a horny woman, a woma
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 25th 2020 by Grand Central Publishing
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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 ·  644 ratings  ·  141 reviews

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Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wrote this book, so it's not impossible that I'm biased. ...more
DISCLAIMER: this review expresses my own personal ie entirely subjective opinion.

TW: mentions of self-harm

Not only was Too Much not enough but what little it offers is wholly problematic.
This book would have made slightly more sense if it had been published in 2010 instead of 2020. Its analysis of the social norms and literature emerging from the Victorian era are far from insightful or innovative. There are so many referencers to films that are now considered outdated and of little cultural r
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Grand Central Publishing) in exchange for an honest review.

I give this book 3.5 stars which rounds up to 4.

I was really intrigued by the idea behind the book and I was really excited to read it. Ultimately, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

The book started off really strong with a lot of literary analysis. Then it sort of became a memoir with some literary analysis. I would have preferred if it stayed more on the literary si
Tanja ~ T's Book ~ KT Book Reviews

Well okay, friends... I guess I’m too much! LOL! What an incredible and insightful look into women and what was and is commonly thought of them. US. I’m buying one for all my girlfriends and a few guy friends too! A must-read!!.

Thank you to @grandcentralpub @hachetteus and @readforeverpub for sending this one my way! My new coffee table staple!!.
Get it on Amazon -

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Deanna Ogle
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-books
This book is very near and dear to my heart. Rachel Vorona Cote talks about “Too Muchness” which I’m sure many of you are familiar with: too loud, too large, too imaginative, too sexual, too irreverent, too independent, or you take up too much space.

The author examines how the Too Muchness of women in Victorian were treated and then ties it to how women are still limited, stifled, exiled, caged, and bound by those philosophies today.

Each chapter is about a different type of Too Muchness and em
Mar 29, 2020 rated it did not like it
Definitely one of my most disappointing reads of this year. (TW: self harm is mentioned in this review). Also should mention that I fully read about 65% of this, and then skimmed the last few chapters.

This book begins with a ton of promise, and hits a lot of my interests--the Victorians, and an exploration of how women are expected to shrink themselves to fit society? Great! An author's note about how Victorian canon is almost always viewed with a cisgender, white, heterosexual lens? Fantastic!
May 10, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, audible, dnf
I wanted to love this book. I held on for nearly 80% of it, I wanted to love it so badly. (I skipped the chapter on self harm.) I’m a “too much” woman too, as well as a proud, unapologetic feminist. I would love to hear about all the ways that we ought to be “too much” as a way to push back against the patriarchy and make space for other women to do the same. I would love to hear about how residual Victorian mores continue to plague us. But instead? I got a memoir with bits and bobs of analysis ...more
Penny Landon
Apr 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
Let me just advise upfront that if you are looking for a nonfiction book that discusses how Victorian societal constraints still color women's experiences today, this is not the book you are looking for. In fact, I'm having trouble figuring out what audience this book is written for, nor can I figure out what genre it's supposed to be. Is it Literary Criticism, Cultural Commentary, or a Memoir? Even I can't tell you.

Let me co-opt the title of this book, which in case you were wondering is repea
Liz DePriest
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Vorona Cote’s background as a literary critic/graduate student is immediately apparent, and yet she manages to communicate the findings of her deep scholarly inquiry with entirely accessible and often lyrical prose. The breadth of Victorian and recent women/figures she analyzes is impressive, as are the ways she manages to illuminate the lineage between Victorian conceptions of women who were “too much” and our own. In her hands, for example, we can see common threads between the judgments and r ...more
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This might surprise you, dear reader of this goodreads review, that I have been called “too much.” And it’s probably one of the most exhausting and infuriating things to be called. I come from a long line of “too much” women. And let me tell you we are pissed. ANYWAY SO when I saw this book my too tall too fat body jumped up and down and I shouted too loudly and too intensely and felt too much.

Reader, this book was made for me.

Like actually made for me. This book is all I want in nonfiction.

Emily S
May 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
1-2 stars. I save one-star reviews for books that I think do a disservice to society so this isn’t that. BUT I have two big pet peeves involving memoirs and this one checks off both — 1) when writers masquerade memoir as nonfiction (for an example of how to honestly package a nonfiction book that includes elements of memoir, see Michelle McNamara’s book about her search for the golden gate killer), and 2) when writers extrapolate from their experiences to make generalizations about large categor ...more
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The day that I read an excerpt from this book, wherein the author talks about the Ramona books, I cried. I am not exaggerating. She describes how Ramona, whom I adored as a child, is larger than life -- and how this challenges the people around her.

I cried because I've been called "too much," "larger than life," and more, for as long as I can remember. "Pipe down!" was constantly aimed in my direction. Another friend says that I emote like Niagara Falls.

I knew I had to read this book.

In it, I fo
Mary Foxe
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was ok

My process as I read.

First Page: Yay! Acknowledgment that most of the content related to Victorian heroines is about straight, cis het white women. Good. Good start.

At First: Yes, discussing hysteria and social pressures of the Victorian society.

As It Continued: Um... okay. Uh... are you getting to a point or are you just on a Tumblr rant?

When I Almost Gave Up: Uuuuuuuh... that is a very specific interpretation of Alice in Wonderland you got there. Very... okay, this is why people hate Engli
Sofia Soter
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
the kind of book that will stick with me for a long time and bleed into my worldview and into my writing. how wonderful to have a framework to encompass those parts of myself — and of those I love, both fictional and real — that are usually unencompassable!
Shannon Canaday
Oct 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020
2 stars - it was OK

Definitely recommend buying this one on sale, it alternated between "so dry" and "so dry and pretentious". There were some salient points but I felt that anything the author was trying to say was overshadowed by the word salads she was creating on the page.

In case you're curious about how Victorian constraints do still bind women today, just look around. Be quiet, be small, be sweet. Stay out of the way, don't like sex too much, don't have visible emotions and always look bea
Laura In  Literary Land
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Part nonfiction and part memoir, Too Much: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today was an eye opening read. This book is a fascinating exploration of the ways women have been minimized, undervalued, and diminished over the past two centuries. ⁣

The book talks about “Too Muchness” -- too loud, too large, too imaginative, too sexual, too irreverent, too independent. Each chapter is about a different type of Too Much and contains personal stories from the author as well as examples from ou
I'll start by saying I was already a captive audience for this book. I was so excited for Too Much that I had its release date circled in my calendar.

Which is why I'm slightly disappointed by this confused and kind of bloated text. I thought going in, based on marketing, that it was literary or pop culture criticism, with all the staples name-dropped in reviews and on the summary: something like the Cult of Virginity from Victorian Age to Britney Spears or an essay tying those themes purity cul
Oct 05, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1-non-fiction
content warning: descriptions of self-harm and suicide attempt

This review also mentions these topics and includes excerpts from the book.

I want to start by saying I did not, no, could not finish that book. I know, me not finishing a book on Victorian era standards and how they relate to today, crazy!! But honestly, even if I could look past the early 2000s references the audiences reading this book in their 20s won't even be able to relate or the insufficient parallels forcibly drawn from Vict
Julie Anna
Apr 16, 2020 rated it did not like it
Too Much

I received an e-ARC for this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Too Much: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today provides many examples of Victorian classics and culture and compares them to the ways that women are still confined today. Rachel Vorona Cote looks at both the authors and works that represented the norms of the Victorian era, as well as the authors that sought to break them. Each chapter features an emotion or characteristic that women are of
Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When I hear the words Victorian constraints it reminds me of a corset pulled so tight you cannot breath! Two centuries later we are still bound up by the
way men perceive us as people and personas. This is a fascinating book that really gets to the heart of encouraging women to take power in their excesses ie physical emotional and spiritual. I love all books Victorian and about that era. This sweeps you from Victorian times to the current state of affairs today. Loved this take on women and thei
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
Actually just going to DNF this. As mentioned in my last update, I'm somehow on a spree of nonfiction books that end up more like self-help venting for the authors? The title of this should have read "how -i- am constrained" because it was very I I I and not we/women. ...more
Nov 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. Disagreed with some of the threads she drew, but I still respect her conclusions.
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: larissa
I should probably preface this with a warning: I’m not particularly fond of victorian literature. My bias comes, mostly, from its treatment of women, so I knew this book was very much My Thing ™.
That said, I think even victorian lit lovers would appreciate Rachel’s clear portrait of how notions created during that time still corset (haha) women today. Mixing history, literature and pop culture references, “Too Much” doesn’t pretend to know everything (the author herself remarks how little she c
Melissa Anderson
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A book about the female muchness. How we are always Too Much. Drawing from Victorian era literature, Rachel Vorona Cote shows how, even today, we are restricted by Victorian constraints. Yes, we no longer wear corsets, but our bodies are even more cruelly scrutinized. I absolutely loved this book and I relate to Rachel so much. Many of her Too Muchness is similar to my own and I felt a kindred spirit. This book isn't preachy, but it teaches us how to draw power from our Too Muchness and allow ou ...more
Mar 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
Most of my enjoyment of this book stemmed from the pleasure in seeing someone articulate issues that I've been concerned with my whole life. However, the identification of issues wasn't then followed up by analysis of those issues. It seemed more like a literary review mixed with an airing of grievances than a fully formed and supported thesis. ...more
Jo Fletcher
Sep 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Echoing others' sentiments, I wanted to love this book, but did not. I think this is primarily because it was not what I was expecting, nor is it really what it purports to be in either title or book blurb. From both of those things, I was anticipating an, if not academic, at least mostly objective cultural analysis of the ways Victorian mores haunt women today, but what I found was a book that was about half that and half memoir.

In its best and most focused moments, thoughtful discussions like
Zack Rearick
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Part memoir, part study of how Victorian gender norms still permeate society today. Cote draws from examples in literature and in popular culture, running the gamut from "The Yellow Wallpaper" to Britney Spears's public meltdown and controversial conservatorship. These case studies make Too Much interesting and enjoyable to read even as it addresses weighty topics. Cote is also incredibly candid, drawing from her personal life to guide the narrative — her path in academia, her failed marriage, o ...more
Oct 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Despite coming in with "no expectations," as I lied to myself, I found this book challenging to get into – the tone was wholly unexpected to me, for whatever reason. Where I thought I would find wry, academic discussion, there was intimate, heartbreaking confession. Once I accepted that voice and narrative structure, which draws on both personal experience and literary examples in addition to pop culture – reading at once like a memoir and a literary review – I found it difficult to put down. I ...more
Mar 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Reading's been kind of hard for a few weeks but hurrah for an impromptu 24 in 48 stay-at-home readathon. I was able to finally quiet my brain and read the rest of Too Much. This is really interesting - a book about books that is also a memoir, specifically how Victorian mores still exist to make women feel "less". To make themselves smaller (physically, spiritually, and intellectually) and quieter. Personally I would have liked a bit less memoir and more criticism, but that's going to be just me ...more
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Dive headfirst down the rabbit hole into a Wonderland of memoir and feminist theory. This book felt like stepping back into the comfort of the classroom for me, a former English major. Rachel masterfully blends her well-researched knowledge of Victorian literature with pop culture references spanning from Silvia Plath to Lizzo. The format is likely unlike anything you've read before. Rachel's writing is at its strongest in the memoir portions. She opens herself up to true vulnerability in sharin ...more
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I'm a writer and occasional editor living in Washington, D.C. I write for publications like the New Republic, Pitchfork, Catapult, Hazlitt, Rolling Stone, the Poetry Foundation, Buzzfeed, and Literary Hub. I also used to be a contributor at Jezebel.

I have a B.A. from the College of William and Mary and an M.A. in Literature from the George Washington University. I am—and will be in perpetuity—ABD

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