The Signature of All Things

The Signature of All Things

A Novel

eBook - 2013
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A glorious, sweeping novel of desire, ambition, and the thirst for knowledge, from the # 1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love and Committed In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction, inserting her inimitable voice into an enthralling story of love, adventure and discovery. Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker—a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry's brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father's money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. As Alma's research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids an...
Publisher: 2013
ISBN: 9781101638002

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Sep 30, 2018

Interesting characters, great Botany information, and a great period piece.

RogerDeBlanck Jun 30, 2018

The Signature of All Things is impressive in both its breadth and detail. Seen primarily through the perspective of the inimitable Alma Whittaker, a botanist with an inexhaustible craving for knowledge, the narrative explores a treasure of ideas in the field of natural science. The story of Alma’s father Henry and the peerless Whittaker family is meticulously developed and beautifully told. For such a multi-generational epic, the story is never slow or boring. The lovely prose seemingly gallops along. Passion exudes on every page. But with all the intelligence and rapture the book delivers, some of its adventures felt as if they could have elevated to a higher level. The ending, though satisfying and interesting, came across as decidedly more expository, rather than revelatory. Nonetheless, this is a rich and enchanting novel that I recommend. It is a substantial literary work and a pleasure to read.

Apr 22, 2018

Loved this book ! Well written with wonderful characters, a magnificent journey through a period of time . A fabulous exploration of science verse spirit and our humanness.

Sep 30, 2017

Well-written enough that I did finish it, but I did not enjoy this book. The characters were all "ugly," and I just couldn't make myself care about them.

Feb 18, 2017

I was drawn into this historical fiction tale from the first chapter. There is a lot of scientific detail but I found the main character delightful. She is a woman stuck in the wrong century! I enjoyed the questions her character raised in her quest to understand moss, science, love, and the 19th century world around her.

Jan 09, 2017

In Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things, we are introduced to Alma Whittaker, an engaging heroine whose story stretches all the way through the nineteenth century and takes us from Europe to America and on again to Tahiti. Alma’s story is an engaging one even as it is one of self discovery that explores such universal themes as romance, sexuality, death and spirituality/religion. Perhaps the most memorable series of events in the book is the discovery by the main character of books that explore sensuality and which aid her in her attempts to explore her sexuality in the privacy of a broom closet. Alma is a scientist, a botanist to be exact and it is her attempts to understand the world around her through the study of the mysteries hidden in plant life, that help her to begin to understand her identity. It is refreshing that Gilbert refuses adhere to the commonality of the binary theme of good versus evil. There is no clear antagonist here and all that threatens the main character’s happiness is herself and her actions. As is the trend of most historical fiction, some real life historical events play a great deal in creating the background to which the story is set. For Alma it is her discovery of the theory of evolution and the publication of Darwin’s theories which closely resemble hers. The Signature of All Things is a work of prose evocative of beauty and the power of womanhood.
- @TheEccentric of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 05, 2016

The Signature of All Things is intelligent and certainly thought-provoking, but it is far from riveting. There is a considerable amount of botany in these pages, and readers who find digressions by an author into science WILL find themselves bored repeatedly throughout this novel.

Apr 26, 2016

This was a book worth reading, but beware - it is a very long book. Not only is it a long book, but it is a long story. Elizabeth Gilbert loves words and she uses almost every word known to the English language, and many from other languages for that matter, in this book. I am glad I read it, if for no other reason than to say that I did, but it's one that I probably won't read again. I did learn a lot about many things, though, not that that is why I read the book. Enjoy, if you have the time to devote to it.

Jan 14, 2016

I simply could not get into this book. 100 pages in, and I had no connection to any of the characters, except maybe Prudence. The plot development was so slow and plodding that I simply had to stop. Life is too short for boring books.

Unless you really like Gilbert, don't bother with this one.

Dec 26, 2015

Magnificent in it's sweep, filled with gems of imagery, hard to put down. Her tale of Alma is one of the more compelling stories I've read. Don't be swayed away from reading this book by what you may think of this author based on your experience with Eat, Pray, Love.

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