Jesse Browner leads the way back through Western civilization, from a present-day poker game where Browner’s devastatingly delicious sandwiches leave the best players penniless, to the ancient Greeks, whose gods punished or exalted the mortals according to their excellence as hosts. On the way, we visit Hitler at his summer home, Gertrude Stein in Paris and Lady Ottoline Morrell in England, Audubon in nineteeth-century America, Louis XIV at Versailles, and the Roman emperors, for whom classic dinner-table entertainment was a good poisoning. As delightful and edifying as an evening in favored company, The Duchess Who Wouldn't Sit Down is a must-read for anyone who's ever accepted an invitation—or wonders why they keep sending them out.
Jesse Browner was born and lives in New York City. He is the author of two novels, Conglomeros and Turnaway, and has translated works by Cocteau, Rilke, Eluard, and others.
“An impressive mini-encyclopedia of hospitality through the ages. Mr. Browner is informative and soulful, imparting an appreciation and understanding of the role of hosting through time.”—New York Observer
“Engaging...full of thought-provoking observations.”—The Economist
“Like an artfully served canapé, Browner’s brief exploration of hospitality may seem light but has a rich, lingering flavor...Browner proves an excellent host himself, throwing out delicious bons mots and peppering the work with personal detail...The way he orders the world here is an invitation worth answering.” —Publishers Weekly