"Sometimes a book just bowls you over with how good it is. For instance, I can remember starting my review of A. S. Byatt's Possession with the sentence 'Sometimes a critic just wants to say Wow.' Still, I never expected to feel anything approaching Nabokovian bliss when reading five lengthy biographical essays about figures and incidents from 19th-century British history. But Kathryn Hughes's Victorians Undone is just amazing, and her 'Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum' are so various, so imaginatively structured, so delicately salacious and so deliciously written that I sighed with pleasure as I turned the pages and even felt those tiny prickles along the neck that A. E. Housman once claimed were the sign of true poetry... This is popularized history done right, done with panache. Hughes has infused new life into dry-as-dust facts to produce a learned work that is brazenly, impudently vivacious."