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book review of "Encyclopedia of the Exquisite" by J.K. Jenkins

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Date published: 11/28/2010

CERTAINLY one of the more unusual books you'll come upon this season, the "Encyclopedia of the Exquisite, An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights" is an attractive compendium of literary sketches on unusual topics that appeal to one's sense of fancy.

The origin of confetti, the carousel, a bullfighter's costume--these are examples of entries comprising the attractive volume Jessica Kerwin Jenkins' extensive research has yielded.

The history of "claude glass," for instance--"a convex hand mirror used to view landscapes" --is explained in anecdotal style that is long enough to explain and short enough to entertain.

Colorful illustrations add to the appeal of many of such wide-ranging entries as "sequins," "tempest," "twilight," xiguo jifa" and "red lipstick," to name just a few.

Jenkins' sources are set forth in a 40-page bibliography at book's end.

Random, unexpected, charming--the alphabetized entries in this "History" is the perfect addition to any lady's bedside table this winter.

Beverly Meyer is a copy editor at The Free Lance-Star.

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE EXQUISITEBy Jessica Kerwin Jenkins(Nan A. Talese, $27.95, 336 pp.)