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The Signature of All Things - Elizabeth Gilbert

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Published: 1st July 2014
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The New York Times bestseller

Elizabeth Gilbert's first novel in twelve years. An extraordinary story of botany, exploration and desire, spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries


5 January 1800, Alma Whittaker is born into a perfect Philadelphia winter. Her father, Henry Whittaker, is a bold and charismatic botanical explorer whose vast fortune belies his lowly beginnings as a vagrant in Sir Joseph Banks's Kew Gardens and as a deck hand on Captain Cook's HMS Resolution. Alma's mother, a strict woman from an esteemed Dutch family, has a knowledge of botany equal to any man's.

It is not long before Alma, an independent girl with a thirst for knowledge, comes into her own within the world of plants and science. But as her careful studies of moss take her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, the man she comes to love draws her in the opposite direction into the realm of the spiritual, the divine and the magical. She is a clear-minded scientist; he is a Utopian artist. But what unites this couple is a shared passion for knowledge.

The Signature of All Things is a big novel, about a big century. It soars across the globe from London, to Peru, to Philadelphia, to Tahiti, to Amsterdam. Peopled with extraordinary characters missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, geniuses and the quite mad above all it has an unforgettable heroine in Alma Whittaker, a woman of the Enlightened Age who stands defiantly on the cusp of the modern.

About the Author

Elizabeth Gilbert is the acclaimed author of five books of fiction and non-fiction. She is most well known for her 2006 bestseller Eat, Pray, Love, which has sold over ten million copies worldwide and was made into a film starring Julia Roberts. Her short story collection Pilgrims was nominated for the PEN/Hemingway Award, her novel Stern Men was a New York Times Notable Book and The Last American Man was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent work, Committed, was a Number One New York Times bestseller. Elizabeth Gilbert lives in New Jersey.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

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The Signature of All Things
 
5.0

(based on 3 reviews)

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    (3)

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100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Deserves multiple readings (3)

Cons

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5.0

A wonderful book

By 

from Queensland

About Me Casual Reader

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Pros

  • Deserves Multiple Readings

Cons

    Best Uses

      Comments about The Signature of All Things:

      A beautiful book I am sure to read over & over again.

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      5.0

      The most satisfying book in ages

      By 

      from Cairns

      About Me Casual Reader

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Deserves Multiple Readings
      • Engaging Characters
      • Incredibly Well Researche
      • Page Turner
      • Well Written

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • For All Things Botanical
        • Gift
        • Of Historical Significanc
        • Older Readers
        • Travel Reading

        Comments about The Signature of All Things:

        This is a sweeping story about the history of Kew Gardens , medicinal plants and plants in general. It is fiction but based on fact and the characters are as delicious as any good novel. It is a great read, even educational and gives insight into the changing role of women in society.

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        5.0

        This book grabbed me from the first page.

        By 

        from Sydney, NSW

        About Me Bookworm

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Deserves Multiple Readings
        • Engaging Characters
        • Well Written

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Gift

          Comments about The Signature of All Things:

          I found this to be an engaging and immersive book, from page 1! I have not read any other books by Elizabeth Gilbert, but I certainly need to now. She has a sure touch with emotional intelligence, descriptions of places and people and storylines (which are easy to follow, even though the book covers so many years). Elizabeth writes with sensitivity, humour and warmth.

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          Unlike anything else she has ever written ... Its prose has the elegant sheen of a 19th-century epic, but its concerns - the intersection of science and faith, the feminine struggle for fulfilment - are especially modern -- Steve Almond International Herald Tribune The story of Alma Whittaker's journey of discovery has irresistible momentum -- Helen Dunmore The Times Ms Gilbert has established herself as a straight-up storyteller who dares us into adventures of worldly discovery, and this novel stands as a winning next act ... A bracing homage to the many natures of genius and the inevitable progress of ideas, in a world that reveals its best truths to the uncommonly patient minds -- Barbara Kingsolver International Herald Tribune Charming and compelling ... A big novel in all senses - extensively researched, compellingly readable and with a powerful charm that will surely propel it towards the bestseller lists -- Jane Shilling Daily Telegraph Gilbert has written the novel of a lifetime O, The Oprah Magazine Sumptuous ... Gilbert's prose is by turns flinty, funny, and incandescent New Yorker Quite simply one of the best novels I have read in years ... a bejewelled, dazzling novel -- Elizabeth Day Observer Readers prepared to enter Gilbert Time will be rewarded: she is an unflaggingly curious writer, prone to delightful touches ... Gilbert's period interests seem boundless - she explores everything from self-sacrifice, to homosexuality, Darwinism and Victorian pornography ... This is a novel to be chewed over, slowly -- Lucy Atkins Sunday Times A botanical odyssey through the nineteenth century, global in ambition, revelling in the period's insatiable curiosity about the world ... a tall tale, told with verve and wit Guardian Filled with dazzling storytelling -- Susie Boyt Financial Times Gilbert writes superbly well -- Wendy Holden Daily Mail An intricate, beautifully written historical novel ... A passionate paean to the 19th-century women of science who strove for achievement against the odds -- Anita Sethi Metro Gilbert's observations, of both characters and locations, make this an unexpected joy and in Alma she has created a truly unforgettable heroine -- Anita Chaudhuri Irish Examiner Astute and funny ... comes with generous helpings of optimism and romance. Cynics need not apply Irish Sunday Mirror Ambitious, boldly imagined and packed with authenticating detail, it engages very boldly with the interaction of art and science Andrew Motion, Guardian Gilbert reminds readers she can do, and undo, narratives through impeccably observed and original stories Independent Gilbert shows herself to be a writer at the height of her powers O Magazine Magnificent ... I was just a few pages into the book when I felt myself relax, aware that I was in the safe hands of a master story-teller -- Anna Carey The Irish Times My own 500-pager of choice? Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things ... just read it ... Hugely enjoyable -- Viv Groskop Observer Books of the Year

          ISBN: 9781408841921
          ISBN-10: 1408841924
          Audience: General
          Format: Paperback
          Language: English
          Number Of Pages: 592
          Published: 1st July 2014
          Country of Publication: GB
          Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.9  x 2.8
          Weight (kg): 0.69
          Edition Number: 1