Jessica Jefferson here writing about the behind the scenes work of the historical romance novelist – research.
When I look for entertaining reads, I don’t usually reach for research books. Now, that’s not saying research books can’t be enjoyable. When I was in middle school, I checked out a book about life during the Victorian era and it changed my life. It inspired me to read historical romance and, well, we know how that turned out.
So there I was, perusing the shelves at Barnes and Noble, buying up the books from other Embracing Romance authors (shameless plug), when I came across an interesting looking cover. Now, I typically don’t judge a book by its cover, but in this particular circumstance, the cover had to be captivating to get me to spend hard cover prices. The book was Unmentionable by Therese O’Neill.
I bought the book and tore into it as soon as I got home. I never thought I’d have so much fun reading a book that is essentially research about women’s lives during Victorian times. The author takes us, the readers, back in time to the mid to later half of the 19th century. Most of us were raised with notions of Victorian women dressed in fabulous gowns, draped in jewels, and being celebrated for their rounder figures. The author dispels these myths. Apparently, the dresses stank, were terribly uncomfortable, and they faced tremendous pressure to stay trim. Not nearly as much fun.
The book focuses on American women and is written from the perspective of a girlfriend who is there to show you the dirty underbelly…er, chamber pot, of a bygone era. There’s plenty of snark and wit to go around and the author purposely focuses on more intimate matters, such as what a fine lady does when it’s her finer time of the month.
I loved the author’s presentation of material, but reviewing Goodreads, I can see that not all share my sentiments. Overwhelmingly, the response has been positive with an overabundance of five star reviews. It appears the majority of people who disliked the book were looking for something more focused on the research and weren’t keen on the friendly banter the author has with the reader. I found it refreshing and the delivery helped to turn typically mundane subject matter into sparkling dinner conversation.
If you love history, the Victorian era, snark, or reading in general – read Unmentionable.
Do you have a favorite research book? If so, what makes it so compelling? A random commenter will win their own copy of Unmentionable**
**North American Residents only, commenter selected randomly by software, Unmentionable the book, the publisher, and author are in no way affiliated with this contest. Contest closes August 16th, 2017