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FoE Book Club > Unmentionable Discussion

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message 1: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 821 comments Mod
Someone asked for a thread for this, so here it is! I finished the book, I really liked it. I found it a humorous take on a really popular era. I never particularly wanted to be born in the past, I was always pretty well aware that whatever problems I may have in my current life, they'd have been worse in the past.


message 2: by Susan (new)

Susan LoVerso | 255 comments I read this back in January and I'm getting it from the library again to reread it for this discussion. I saw Pam's comment in the other thread and I'm really curious to see what caused that reaction.

Like you I never wanted to be born in the past. However I have at times considered how inconvenient a lot of clothing would have been while reading old romance novels. I'm more of a jeans, t-shirt and sneakers kind of person. So the book overall satisfies a curiousity.


message 3: by Pam (new)

Pam | 7 comments Alrighty, here we go. Spacers in case anyone wants to skip rant / "spoilers"
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Chapter 13, It's Hysterical.

So far as I've gone, author is presenting this "illness" as something the middle class young women came up with, that they're acting out by choice because they're bored/suppressed/whathaveyou. Absolutely NO analysis of the fact that it was the men making these decisions, diagnosis, etc. Every other reading I've seen of this awful time was that "hysteria" was most likely due to a combination of poorly fitting too tight corsets, horrible nutrition, and women just acting like normal human beings in a super repressive society.
It's reading to me like "blame the victim" and I just can't stand it.


message 4: by Holly (new)

Holly C | 3 comments I'm only on chapter 5, but am laughing hard enough to scare the cat. Already I have noticed some questionable statements, which make me wonder about the author's research, but so far I am enjoying it.


message 5: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 821 comments Mod
Oh, I thought i posted something on this, but apparently the app ate it.
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Anyhow, as far as the Hysteria chapter went, I interpreted all that as her way of saying Hysteria was such an umbrella term that it was used for just about anything. She does mention that legitimate complaints often just got brushed under the label. And I think she does mention simply not falling in line could also be dubbed hysteria. The whole thing with the upper/middle class, I read as her way of saying that those who were wealthy and privileged were able to use the umbrella term as a way of getting a medically sanctioned break. She also did mention that there tended to be a black and white view towards mental illness. So if you weren't privileged enough to get the gentle "take a vacation" cure you were expected to either deal and get over it, or you'd be locked away.


message 6: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Pace (space1138) | 127 comments While I appreciated the light hearted look at a part of history that is nearly always sugar coated, I agreed with Holly's observation about how carefully the author researched. I too found statements that seemed "off" and the places where the author openly admitted to exaggerating made me wonder how much else was as well. The book was fascinating however, and really makes me want to do some more research on personal care in this (and other) time periods.


message 7: by Megan (new)

Megan | 236 comments I enjoyed it - it was very high-level, but it reminded me of another favorite - "Let There Be Clothes", which covers fashion over a much longer time period.

Some chapters of Unmentionable definitely seemed better researched than others - if I had to guess, I would suspect that the author already had much of the fashion and beauty material and then decided to broaden the scope to fill out the book, leading to the more dubious/speculative nature of some of the other chapters. It seems to be the author's first book, after many articles, so she may be having some challenges adjusting to a longer format. It will be interesting to see what she chooses to do next!


message 8: by Sheri (new)

Sheri | 821 comments Mod
Hi all,

So I admit to being at something of a loss with this one. Ready Player One did have some questions I found for discussion groups, that I did eventually post. But I'm not really finding anything for this one, either because it's too new or not many book clubs have selected it.

I did find a reddit AMA with the author, should anyone wish to read it Here

Sorry for my lack of organization, I probably should have looked into this sooner. But it's July now, when i slated "official" discussion to begin, so if anyone has anything further they want to say about the book, fire away.


message 9: by Kristi (new)

Kristi Holaway (kristiholaway) I finally got my digital copy from the library yesterday and started reading last night. I'm only a couple of chapters in, and so far I've been fairly amused. We'll see how it goes as I get further in.


message 10: by Susie (new)

Susie Steadman (suessy88) | 17 comments I generally like reading about historical clothing, and all the other things, but after a while the snark was too much to keep me interested. I found myself skimming in search of interesting bits instead of settling in for a good read.


message 11: by Susan (new)

Susan LoVerso | 255 comments I agree with Susie. I too found the snarky writing style overbearing and wore on me after a while. And I agree that some parts were better researched and presented than others. That said, I did learn a lot!


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