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lip lit: gin and juice, the victorian guide to parenting

My older sister is pregnant, and I’m ridiculously excited. It’s the first time I’m going to be an aunty, so I’m already going weak-kneed at the sight of baby mittens. Mittens! So babies don’t claw themselves with their insanely, tiny, perfect fingernails! And don’t even get me started on minature Converse sneakers, they just about make my ovaries explode.

I feel like I need to clarify that despite biology trying to con my uterus into thinking babies are the most adorablest thing on the planet and that I must have one in mine, my brain is smart enough to recognise that I’m incredibly selfish and can’t even think of having a tiny person in my life full time. Though, in my efforts to be a supportive little sister, I have been speaking to my older sister about pregnancy and child-rearing books, and how most of them are pretty frightening.  Luckily for her, I  found a hilarious one so she can laugh while she cries over the lack of sashimi in her life.

Gin and Juice: The Victorian Guide to Parenting is a parody of parenting manuals, circa 1896. While it’s decidedly and wickedly British, 80 percent of the references and jokes still carry through.  The manual is broken down into sections such as ‘The Agonies & Indignities of Childbirth’, ‘Becoming Acquainted with your Baby’ and ‘Poxes, Plagues & Panaceas’. All sections contain hilarious illustrations and acicid wit.

Here are a few pieces of  sage advice from the manual:

On Nutrition: It is of paramount importance to remember that you are eating for two. If this seems daunting, imagine that you are an American.

On choosing a name: It has been scientifically proved that a child with an uptight and noble name is 14 ½ times more likely to achieve worldly success and become a person of impeccable moral character.

Childbirth: The business of childbirth is almost uncannily like the business of winning a battle at sea. It is self-evident that vast quantities of water are involved, as well as a great deal of screaming, loud noses, courage and grappling hooks and, in the case of the non-officer class, the consumption of a lot of rum.

What if you have twins? As they grow older, encourage healthy competition…Twins who are not warring can unite to form a very dangerous alliance, and it is for this reason that you ought never leave them alone together.

On speaking about your child to other parents: Remember: life is a competitive game, and any slight advantage – real, or entirely invented – should be shoved down the throats of one’s rivals without hesitation.

Gin and Juice is a great gift for any expectant or new mother in your life. It’s vivacious and beguiling, and the perfect antidote for those pregnancy and baby books that make new mothers want to hide under their covers.

Bloomsbury, $19.95

One thought on “lip lit: gin and juice, the victorian guide to parenting

  1. Hi Freya,
    Delighted that you enjoyed the book, and thanks for such a lovely review. Hope your sister likes it – and good luck with the baby!

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