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All the Time in the World: A Book of Hoursby Jessica Kerwin Jenkins
Synopses & Reviews
A follow-up to her popular Encyclopedia of the Exquisite, Jenkins's new book offers a string of historical anecdotes structured around the hours of the day, celebrating the unusual, fantastic, and beautiful ways people have spent time throughout the ages.
All the Time in the World proffers a miscellany of customs, traditions, and pleasures people have pursued throughout the ages. An antidote to the contemporary cult of Getting Things Done, the book takes its cue from the medieval books of hours, which prescribed certain readings and contemplations for various parts of the day and year. Full of witty bons mots, interesting etymologies, and arresting anecdotes, the book encompasses an array of cultures and eras including ancient Greece, Renaissance Florence, 1930s Shanghai, and the Hollywood Hills of the late 1960s, and drifts through the worlds of fashion, beauty, art, food, or travel. Focusing on the glamorous, eccentric, unusual, and sublime, subjects covered include: the daylong ceremony of laying a royal Elizabethan tablecloth; the radicalization of sartorial chic in 1890s Paris; Nostradamus's belief in the aphrodisiac power of jam (and the book of recipes he published the same year as his predictions); the sensuous practice of sniffing incense in fifteenth century Japan; the American fascination with flaming desserts; the short-lived artistic discipline of "lumia," or visual music; the Ottoman Empire's seventeenth century ban on coffee; the magnetic atmosphere that fueled Parisian highlife in the 1920s; Henriette d'Angeville's fearless ascent of Mont Blanc, armed with 13 guides, 24 roast chickens, and 18 bottles of wine; the elaborate treasure hunts concocted by London's Bright Young Things; and the musical revolution known as bebop. Entertaining, unexpected, and charming, All the Time in the World digs up the forgotten treasures of the past and inspires a passion for good living in the present.
"This second book from the author of Encyclopedia of the Exquisite fashions itself after the Christian devotionals of the Middle Ages, but here Jenkins eschews the monastic; hers is a meditation for artists, bohemians, and hedonists. Despite its largely superfluous organizational structure, this compendium of cultural curiosities delivers equal parts education and inspiration with a lively voice and a tasteful nostalgia for slower, more deliberate and arguably more entertaining times. When the clock ticks, the scene shifts to a new and delightfully unexpected snippet of history. The morning hours bring pancakes (complete with gluten-free recipe), midday watches the slow demise of the siesta, and giddy dancers waltz toward midnight. The cast ranges from the glamorous to starving artists to far-flung ancients. Readers travel by train with Clara Bow, wander Paris with Joyce and Beckett and a dueling Proust, and indulge the sensuousness of kabuki, the cult of cherry blossoms, and coffee as a mystic nighttime delight. Throughout, fantastic stylized illustrations evoke the iconography of illuminated manuscripts, and Jenkins's enthusiastic research sings in details like polished horses' teeth paving the floor of an English grotto. The book's charm lies in its breadth and scope, and the result, though not a page-turner, is an insightful and contemplative study in culture and all its frivolous progress. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
JESSICA KERWIN JENKINS began her career in New York, writing for Women's Wear Daily and for W magazine, later becoming the magazine's European editor in Paris. Her first book, Encyclopedia of the Exquisite, was one of Amazon.com's and Barnes & Noble's top one hundred picks in 2010, and was featured in The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, and Vanity Fair, among other publications. She writes for Vogue and lives on the coast of Maine.
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