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All the Time in the World: A Book of Hours

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Overview

Entertaining, unexpected, and full of charm, the follow-up to Jessica Kerwin Jenkins’s Encyclopedia of the Exquisite presents a miscellany of engaging stories, detailing the intriguing customs, traditions, and guilty pleasures pursued throughout the ages.
 
All the Time in the World takes its cue from an iconic component of medieval life, the book of hours, which prescribed certain readings and contemplations for certain parts of the day ...

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Overview

Entertaining, unexpected, and full of charm, the follow-up to Jessica Kerwin Jenkins’s Encyclopedia of the Exquisite presents a miscellany of engaging stories, detailing the intriguing customs, traditions, and guilty pleasures pursued throughout the ages.
 
All the Time in the World takes its cue from an iconic component of medieval life, the book of hours, which prescribed certain readings and contemplations for certain parts of the day throughout the year. Divided into more than seventy-five entries, All the Time in the World is brimming with witty bons mots, interesting etymologies, and arresting anecdotes encompassing an array of cultures and eras. 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; 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 evolution of coffee from a religious ritual to a forbidden delight in the Middle East; Henriette d'Angeville's fearless and wine-fueled ascent of Mont Blanc; the elaborate treasure hunts concocted by London's Bright Young Things; and the musical revolution known as bebop. An antidote to the contemporary cult of “getting things done,” All the Time in the World revives forgotten treasures of the past while inspiring a passion for good living in the present.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/07/2013
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.)
From the Publisher
"The perfect conversation-starter. . . . [A] sensualist’s miscellany of Gilded Age dinner dressing customs and Edwardian treasure hunts." —Vogue

"Striking. . . . Extracted from the past are anecdotes designed to amuse and distract, a shadowbox of biographical baubles and historical curiosities to offset the monotony of our workaday lives. Americans addicted to productivity and practicality, the author suggests, have lost the gift for wonder—or, at the risk of sounding a touch too pragmatic, our capacity to be inspired. . . . [T]he set pieces not only entertain; they also enlighten and educate. . . . [Jenkins] writes with an easy elegance and boasts a keen eye for arresting quotations. . . . At its best, which is very good, the book punches above its weight—introducing readers to an engaging array of events, individuals and issues, many of them all but neglected in serious works of history. Ms. Jenkins's spirited and insightful volume, unlike a jar of raspberry jam, comes with a long shelf life." —The Wall Street Journal

"This lovely and lovingly researched literary gem encompasses diverse eras and cultures and reveals a world of ‘fancies’ and intriguing bits of history ... There is much to contemplate and marvel over in Jenkins’ scholarly and highly entertaining book of exuberance." —Booklist, starred review

"[T]his 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 ... Throughout, fantastic stylized illustrations evoke the iconography of illuminated manuscripts, and Jenkins's enthusiastic research sings ... The book's charm lies in its breadth and scope ... [A]n insightful and contemplative study in culture and all its frivolous progress." —Publishers Weekly

"Jessica Kerwin Jenkins shows us how abundant a source of wisdom the history of civilization can be for constructing our days—month by month, minute by minute—into an artful and mindful cosmos of activity and repose ... The secret to living a full life is to embrace our capacity for loving beauty, which is ridiculously obvious, everywhere, here by definition. Just look." Bookpage

Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-15
A literary excursion around the clock and through the year in miniature essays about a host of diverse, fanciful topics. This Book of Hours, unlike traditional breviaries, does not follow the ecclesiastical calendar through the seasons and times of day with psalms and prayers. Instead, Jenkins' (Encyclopedia of the Exquisite: An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights, 2010, etc.) book is a collection of curiosities. In its chronological presentation, there are more than 75 chunks of oddities of civilization from, for example, the mounting taste for coffee to old Shanghai's cabarets. There's a bit about bebop, a description of rainbows, a history of microscopes and the romance of the Coliseum by moonlight. Clearly, it would be an understatement to call this entertaining compilation of miscellany simply eclectic. Among Jenkins' myriad notes to quirky human history are quick appraisals of the baths, walks, snacks and naps that were quite fashionable not so long ago. People and places, too, are celebrated. Did you know that the legendary prognosticator Nostradamus was a jam-and-jelly enthusiast? Jenkins also includes several recipes, mostly for desserts--e.g., the Crêpe Suzette. It is an entertaining accumulation, certainly, with frolics, some bibelots and some bagatelles. Some whimsical pursuits are more interesting than others, but most readers will be happy to contemplate the likes of Charles Blondin on his tightrope over Niagara Falls or Nelly Bly's circumnavigation of the globe. To be taken in measured amounts for best effect, the text, bearing copious bibliography, is accompanied by mannered drawings somewhat reminiscent of Aubrey Beardsley. A small Cabinet of Wonder, detailing some diverting oddments and minutiae of past times.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385535410
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/29/2013
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 339,556
  • Product dimensions: 6.64 (w) x 8.02 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

Jessica Kerwin Jenkins is the author of Encyclopedia of the Exquisite: An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights. She began her career in New York, writing for Women’s Wear Daily and for W magazine, later becoming W’s European editor in Paris. She writes for Vogue and lives on the coast of Maine.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2013

    Love this book...it is perfect!

    Love this book...it is perfect!

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    Posted December 13, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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