All the Time in the World: A Book of Hours

Jessica Kerwin Jenkins. Doubleday/Talese, $28.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-38553-541-0
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.)
Reviewed on: 10/07/2013
Release date: 10/29/2013
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