About the Book

The book's cover design.

Encyclopedia of the Exquisite, by Jessica Kerwin Jenkins, and published by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, takes a cue from the exotic encyclopedias of the 16th century, which brimmed with mysterious artifacts, focusing on the elegant, the rare, the commonplace and the delightful. A compendium of luxury that merges whimsy and practicality, the book traipses through all the fine arts, showcasing every sphere of style: fashion, food, travel, home, garden and beauty.

In the spirit of renewing old sources of beauty, and using an anecdotal approach, each entry proffers an array of engaging stories. Among them: the explosive history of champagne; the art of lounging on a divan; the emergence of “frillies,” the first lacy, racy lingerie; the luxe legend of sweet-smelling saffron; the riot incited by the appearance of London’s first top hat; Julia Child’s tip for cooking the perfect omelet; the polarizing practice of wearing red lipstick during WWII; Louis XIV’s fondness for the luscious Bartlett pear; the Indian origin of badminton; Europe’s 17th century false beauty mark fad; the evolution of the Japanese kimono; the pilgrimage of Central Park’s Egyptian obelisk; and the thrill of dining alfresco.

Encyclopedia of the Exquisite is a lifestyle guide for the Francophile and the Anglomaniac, the gourmet and the style maven, the armchair traveler and the art-lover. It’s an homage to the esoteric world of glamour that doesn’t require much spending, but makes us feel rich.

Check out the New York Times Book Review

Check out Encyclopedia of the Exquisite at Amazon.com

…at Random House

…at Barnes & Noble

…at Powells

to get in touch: jessica.kerwin.jenkins (at) gmail.com

18 Responses

  1. Clare Press · November 10, 2010 at 02:32:39 · →

    Oh my! This is everything I dream of in a book. Clever you. Simply CANNOT WAIT to read this. I am v. v. excited. Would be greatly thrilled if you might read my blog – I used to be the features ed at Aussie Vogue. A bientot clever lady after my own heart.

  2. Anita · November 14, 2010 at 19:10:36 · →

    Dear Jessica,

    I haven’t even shown my husband the (review) of your magnificent book in our paper (Denver Post) today, because I know exactly what he’d say:” It’s you honey, only in book form.” It’s all the aestetics and vagueries of life that should be treasured and learned and discussed (at length!) And they look to be gathered up in one stunning little package!
    Although, I guess, I’ll have to take the clipping off my desk and put in on his bedside table if I want to get it as a gift for the holidays. Unless, of course, I can’t wait and just get it for myself sooner!!!

    Anita Halpern

  3. pattyann · December 10, 2010 at 22:15:21 · →

    Just read the WSJ review of this book of “savory obscurities” (December 4-5, 2010) and simply had to order four copies. Three are for gifts and one is for my amusement. Am looking forward to enjoying and sharing.

  4. Janine Edmée · December 29, 2010 at 09:43:45 · →

    Dear Ms. Jenkins

    One word Exquis

    Having read the review in the NY Times…I rushed out two weeks ago to buy your book as a holiday present to myself.

    I would love to “subscribe” to your website/blog…what is the best way to do that ?

    Happy New Year
    Janine Edmée

  5. Christina Pippin · January 13, 2011 at 09:32:35 · →

    Oh, what a way to start off the new year! My lucky day to have read about a kindred spirit who has written the perfect little book!

    Surely, this is just what I needed to whisk away these winter doldrums that set in right about now in Oak Park! On my way to purchase it at The Book Table now.

    Can’t wait for the second book!

  6. francesca · February 14, 2011 at 08:12:30 · →

    Jessica just saw a note on your book, can’t wait to have it at hands and dive in the dream world of exquisite. surrounded by continuous vulgarity in TV, on the streets, at the restaurant, it will be my pill of comfort.

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  10. André Bartholomeu Fernandes · February 16, 2012 at 11:35:26 · →

    Hi Jessica,

    your blog is awesome, posts idem, book idem. Love the concept and also the overall concept.

    here goes a thing: I would have LIKE IT to facebook so you posts would have been shared to my friends…this is an easy to do task in you blog and it helps a lot…also i want to write this as an email but i could not find a email address…

    tks very much for your work


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