It’s hard to imagine a woman — or a teenage girl — who won’t love this book ... That these stories take place in the past allows the modern young woman to read them — and to dream about their heroines — without conflict. Perhaps it is this stubborn, enduring and thoroughly non-liberated attraction to marriage, family and home that is the true 'unmentionable.'”
That bitter, dark brew underneath, as it turns out, is rich with information that will amuse and sometimes horrify its readers. To ease the transmission of such knowledge, Oneill addresses the reader affectionately, calling her/him by terms of endearment like 'darling,' 'cherie' and 'lambkin.' She oscillates between playing the role of the benevolent, all-knowing guide; the conspiring comrade and confidante; the whipsmart friend; and the expert Victorian slang translator ... Unusual sepia-toned illustrations, archival photographs, and advertisements appear throughout the book. These visual breaks provide comic relief from the grim realities that each chapter presents anew ... Oneill succeeds in making otherwise dry information sparkle.
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 ... Unmentionable is lavishly illustrated, too: Oneill has an eye for ludicrous images and a penchant for punny captions ... Unfortunately, Oneill’s finds are as padded as Victorian buttocks...Her arch tone seems to suggest that the 21st century has figured out everything the naïve Victorians missed.