Cover Image: Unbecoming a Lady

Unbecoming a Lady

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Member Reviews

I received this book in exchange for a honest review from NetGalley.

I have loved Therese Oneill's other books and this one is no exception. I love any book that profiles interesting women of history and this one has women that even I have never heard of. Seeing myself (a loud, brazen, unabashed woman) in these pages is incredibly refreshing and I loved this book for that. I loved that one of the profiles was Lena Bryant whose story is one that I have loved for a long time. Overall loved it!

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3.5 stars, rounded up. The book highlights excellent women. No complaints there. However, the blurbs about each woman are nearly too brief, and coupled with the jokes that don’t always land, I’m left wanting a bit more.

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It is fitting that this book was released during Women's History Month because a) I like to read in themes and b) it is important to remember women in history every day, but even more-so during the month of March, when, as a public, we are constantly reminded of the strides women have made, the glass ceilings they have yet to break, and the 84 cents to a man's dollar they continue to make. Reading this book felt empowering because I was learning about the women who gave a big F-U to the patriarchy, and by extension society, by being true to themselves and showing others that breaking the norm creates more interesting ripples than staying in a quiet body of water.

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This is a collection of essays of American women who were remarkable, while being deemed unbecoming in their olden times. They're not very palatable in ours either, as evidenced by so few sustaining their infamy. It's short, yet informative and entertaining in the way that an encyclopedia or trivia book was in the times without internet during a train or flight journey. I would have liked to read more about Indian women who had a similar experience, but that's a personal wish. Loved the title, humor, and attached images. Thank you to Netgalley, the publishers, and the author for an ARC of this book! :D

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Thanks to Netgalley and Simon Element for the ARC of this! I swapped back and forth between that and the audiobook.

This was exactly what I hoped for: the stories of primarily women I had never heard of and who didn't act as people of the time would expect or want, told in a conversational, snarky tone. I liked the included images as well. This was a quick, easy, and entertaining read that didn't require anything in the way of prior knowledge in the historical field.

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Delightfully irreverent and laugh-out-loud hilarious collection of eighteen short biographies of women who lived around the turn of the twentieth century and famously (or notoriously) did things rather unbecoming of a lady.
When was the last time you read a nonfiction book in less than a day, learned a lot, and laughed your way through? This book is a proper marvel. A feminist manifesto (or eighteen) wrapped inside genuine entertainment. Because let’s face it—the past, especially when it came to women, is rather horrifying to explore without a dash of levity.
And yet, these brave eighteen dared to defy the social norm by making careers, fortunes, and names for themselves in a man’s world. Audaciously, brazenly, epically so. You got to admire it.
A great read. Including photos and artwork for proper, immersive introductions. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.

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You’ve never had women’s history like this! O’Neill has curated a collection of women’s stories that you probably aren’t over familiar with and delivered it in hilarious bite size chunks. I absolutely adored the satirical tone used here, so witty and funny! I hope there may be more from this author with women from other countries and time periods.

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Threse Oneill is the resident expert on women's history in a satirical and humorous manner as Mary Roach is to science.

Joining Unmentionable and Ungovernable, Unbecoming a Lady is a close examination of the women that history has swept under the rug (or in some cases, completely out the door) due to their more eclectic nature that upset the proverbial apple cart of the patriarchy. Broken into several easy to digest segments, the book explores women who are most definitely not sluts and shrews but eschewed their own way in a male dominated society. From running schemes, gambling, and speaking out in favor of women's rights, all of these women have earned their place in the annals of history.

What I loved most about this book besides the plentiful photographs, cartoons, and graphs that help visualize what these women looked like, is that there were so many that I had never heard of before. I consider myself fairly well read and a feminist, so the inclusion of many unknown historical figures was quite a treat. There were plenty of pages devoted to each individual as well so it didn't feel like her accomplishments were diminished or condensed in any way, although there were some entrants that I can't wait to deep diver into learning about.

My only complaints were that it was too short - I wanted even more stories! The subtitle is a little misleading in that the women highlighted weren't sex workers or even just nags, but instead were simply women who laughed in the face of men and other women telling them how they should act and live their lives.

Highly recommended for fans of Oneill's previous works and anyone who loves biographies about women who are non-conformists and simply don't care what society thinks of them, and for those with a love for history and a dry, witty sense of humor.

Huge thank you to NetGalley, Simon Element, and Therese Oneill for an advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review.

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This is a book about 18 women who made an impact in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century, but who lost their places in history because they didn’t conform to the standards of society at that time. Nevertheless, these women, and women like them helped to open up a world of possibilities for the women who came ofter them.

The writing is irreverent and witty, which is helpful because most of these stories will make you want to scream. I thought I was fairly familiar with figures in women's history, but some of these were entirely new to me.

There are chapters about performers, entrepreneurs and tycoons, innovators, religious figures, social justice advocates, and women who were so outside of societal norms that even the suffragists avoided them.

In this book we meet a circus fat lady who decided that if people were going to stare at her and mock her, they should at least pay her for it. There’s a vaudeville dancer, a poker player, and a reindeer herder who became Alaska’s first self-made female millionaire. There are some names I recognized, like Ida B. Wells, Carrie Nation and Mother Jones, but even with these women there were important parts of their stories that I hadn’t known.

Lena Himmelstein Bryant Malsin invented the first commercial maternity dress, but wasn’t allowed to advertise it for years because it was considered obscene.

Elizabeth Packard was locked in a mental asylum for three years by her husband because she didn’t want to be a Presbyterian anymore. When she was released, she fought the system that allowed such incarceration.

Not all the women are entirely likable, but that’s kind of the point.

This was an interesting and well-researched book.

Many thanks to NetGalley for the free eARC which I received in exchange for an honest review.

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Unfortunately, I was not a huge fan of Unbecoming A Lady. I think my main complaint was the writing style. The humor was simply not my cup of tea. It somehow felt juvenile yet vulgar; like the author was trying too hard to make this work of nonfiction be “edgy.” (When really, facts about these women are edgy enough — in a non-cringey sort of way.) Overall, it reminded me of those humor books that are created more as a work of satire or parody than anything else… even though the author definitely took these women very seriously. The tone just didn’t fit.

Which is a shame, because the book was quite informative. I wasn’t always interested in the women who were profiled. (The chapter on “Goody-Goodies for God” is a perfect example.) But each chapter was very quick & easy to digest, which always kept me reading til the next section.

It was not an experience totally devoid of high points. I appreciated the section on Ida B Wells, when the author took on a more respectful and serious tone. And as a past attendee of the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit, the profile on Victoria Woodhull was an unexpected gift. I even found myself surprised by how much I enjoyed the history of Lena Himmelstein Bryant Malsin, creator of Lane Bryant. Not a person I expected to be enthralled by!

If you are already a fan of humor as a reading genre, you may appreciate this book more than I did. Unfortunately, it was just a bit of a flop for me and my individual tastes.

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There was no chance I was seeing this title and not reading this, are you kidding me?

And even though it clearly could've been just a title grab (I have been burned before), it absolutely paid off in Trivia Dividends. We all know how much I love useless trivia. Here's what I learned:

* Cake walk is not just a reference to the ridiculous carnival game. It (seemingly) originated in the days of slavery, possibly as a way to mock uppity white assholes and their fancy dances. Of course, those uppity assholes took it, minstrel'ed it, and made it their own, but a bad ass woman named Aida Overton Walker flipped the minstrel on its head and made a name from it. AMAZING.

* The creator of Lane Bryant was a Jewish, Lithuanian immigrant who made clothing for pregnant women (who were supposed to stay inside while pregnant because gUHross) and who, when applying for a bank loan, spelled her name wrong. Her husband was an engineer who helped her design clothing for women whose bodies were

"Irrational, outside of the norm, and in the eyes of clothing manufacturers, in need of rationalization and correction."

* I've never read the book nor seen the movie Cheaper By the Dozen, but apparently the mother its based on was a bad ass who told menstrual pad creators to stop being stupid and make things women didn't hate to buy more than they already did.

* The founder of the Seventh Day Adventist Church was a woman who got hit in the head with a rock as a child and thereafter had visions of God, who told her how the church should be run.

* Carrie "Death to the alcoholics" Nation basically invented battered women's shelters.

* I'm not going to tell you who my top quote in this review is from. You need to go find her story.

I vagued these as much as I could because seriously, y'all need to go read this book. My Badass Women Cup floweth over and I have so many more women to learn about now.

Go forth and find out for yourselves.

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This book was great! It shows the struggles of women in the 1800s and early 1900s for equality and rights. Ms. O'Neill has long been one of my favorite authors so I had to read this one! It did not disappoint!

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—Thank you so much to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the chance to review an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This was everything i wanted it to be. I found out and learned about so many new amazing women who broke the rules and the norms.
I’m so excited to research and learn more about them.

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I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I have read other books by Therese Oneill and find her focus on the secret lives of women who bucked societal trends delightful. Some of the women in this book were totally new to me which is cool for me as a history nerd. I enjoyed learning about the women profiled in this book.

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Therese Oneill’s irreverent tone belies the seriousness of the subject matter. I was laughing so hard with this book that I forgot how much I owe to the women discussed here. From wearing pants to owning property, remaining childless by choice or being able to vote, these 18 women shaped my life, as well as every other woman in the US and probably the Western world. But, instead of using a preachy tone, the author applies her hilarious style to these mini biographies. Just as with her previous historical books, Unbecoming a Lady is impeccably researched, and includes photographs of these women, as well as gorgeous illustrations by Lisa Jonté. Readers looking for a serious treatise on feminism should look elsewhere, but the lighthearted way the material is treated is exactly why I loved it. Oneill doesn’t pass judgement, she just presents brief outlines of these remarkable women’s accomplishments and makes you think, while laughing out loud. This was the perfect read for me.
I chose to read this book and all opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. Thank you, #NetGalley/#Simon Element, S&S..

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This is a pretty good book of essays in various women throughout history that didn’t fit the mold at the time and they still may not today. This book is very light hearted and full of humor not all of it well placed. There were plenty of times I laughed but also there were a few moments the jokes landed flat. And as is the tendency for books like these the further gets out from publication the more dated it's could feel because of the type of humor.

This is a good primer of USA women of the past. So many of these stories leave you wanting to know more about these interesting women and luckily there is a reference list in this book. I am still going through it finding which ones my library has and which ones I have to find elsewhere.

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Is there any more fun to be had than by reading about women who rebelled and broke taboos? If there is, I don’t want to know about it. Just know that women have always been making waves and the ideals of the 50s housewife of the Victorian Angel of the House never really existed.

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I want more of this! There is a little language (completely appropriate) and this is the sassiest, funniest book I've read in a while. Honestly, I'm planning on going back and reading the stories again and reading the reviews while I wait for this author to write another book.
I haven't heard of most of the women in this book and I am glad I learned their stories. I was laughing out loud a few times. Thanks so much to NetGalley for letting me read this ARC

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This book was so much fun! I loved the humor, the sass, while also being so informative. The illustrations at the beginning of the chapters was a cool touch.

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I ate this book up in one sitting, and savored every bite! Most of the women Oneill writes about here, I'd never heard about, with the exception of Elizabeth Packard, so it was fascinating to learn about these women who defied the societal norms of their times. The illustrations/photos were especially fun. Oneill had me shaking my head and laughing out loud throughout the book. Now I want to mine my library for some of her older titles. Such a great literary romp through women's history!

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