In the Middle Ages readings were done at certain times of day. With more than 75 eclectic entries, here is a modern version, describing such practices as incense sniffing in 15th century Japan to our interest in flaming desserts. Entertaining and delightful. — Sarah Knight
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.
About 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.
"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