All the Time in the World: A Book of Hours

All the Time in the World: A Book of Hours

4.5 2
by Jessica Kerwin Jenkins, John Rubinstein, Joshua Swanson
     
 

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A follow-up to her popular Encyclopedia of the Exquisite, Jenkins' 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

Overview

A follow-up to her popular Encyclopedia of the Exquisite, Jenkins' 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, and 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' 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 thirteen guides, twenty-four roast chickens, and eighteen 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.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781482931914
Publisher:
Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
10/29/2013

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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All the Time in the World: A Book of Hours 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book...it is perfect!