The Signature Of All Things: A Novel

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The Signature Of All Things: A Novel

by Elizabeth Gilbert

Penguin Publishing Group | June 24, 2014 | Trade Paperback

The Signature Of All Things: A Novel is rated 4.05 out of 5 by 20.
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

Look out for Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, on sale now!

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 and who draws her in the exact opposite direction—into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose a utopian artist—but what unites this unlikely couple is a desperate need to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all life.

Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, The Signature of All Things soars across the globe—from London to Peru to Philadelphia to Tahiti to Amsterdam, and beyond. Along the way, the story is peopled with unforgettable characters: missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, geniuses, and the quite mad. But most memorable of all, it is the story of Alma Whittaker, who—born in the Age of Enlightenment, but living well into the Industrial Revolution—bears witness to that extraordinary moment in human history when all the old assumptions about science, religion, commerce, and class were exploding into dangerous new ideas. Written in the bold, questing spirit of that singular time, Gilbert’s wise, deep, and spellbinding tale is certain to capture the hearts and minds of readers.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 528 pages, 8.41 × 5.43 × 1.09 in

Published: June 24, 2014

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0143125842

ISBN - 13: 9780143125846

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Epic, Funny, Deliriously good! The most wildly entertaining historical epic I have read in the last ten years. Love!!
Date published: 2014-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read, Love One of my favourite books EVER....a fantastically winding, delicious story starring a great character. This is a good book club pick, there's lots to discuss on the power and meaning of "love", and the place of women in society -- our heroine gets to be a career girl for two big reasons: she's plain, and she's rich and so is absolved of the 'need' to marry. Discuss.
Date published: 2014-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Signature of All Things Great story of a courageous woman. Entrancing and stimulating!
Date published: 2014-10-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Signature of All Things This is a good read, and a long one. It follows a family through two generations. I would say it drags in last third of book and then ends well. I recommend it to plant lovers everywhere and actually to all lovers.
Date published: 2014-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Signature of all Things Profound...compelling... Beautifully written.
Date published: 2014-06-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Mom Enjoyable, relaxing read. Refreshing, just something different.
Date published: 2014-06-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Different Great story of an extraordinary woman
Date published: 2014-05-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Different Great storyline, but perhaps a bit too long. I found myself lost in pages of descriptive writing. I think I was expecting more.
Date published: 2014-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Different I am wondering if Elizabeth Gilbert is a better fiction writer than a non-fiction writer after reading this book. Profound, delightful and feminist - an unbelievable combination.
Date published: 2014-02-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Different I could hardly put this book down for about the first half. It seemed like a lot of things were happening all at once and It was really exciting. But the second half for me fell a little bit short, though it was still a comfortable and pleasing read overall.
Date published: 2014-01-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Different Great book, first one of hers that I have read, but will be looking for more by her now
Date published: 2014-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Different It's been a while since I've fallen into a book as quickly and happily as I have with Elizabeth Gilbert's latest novel. I am absolutely enthralled by the writing. I love the characters and I am loathe to finish the book because I don't want to say goodbye to them. The story has evoked gasps, laughter, and already a few tears, as well as a few moments of, "I never knew that!" Truly a fantastic book.
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Different This is a wonderful account of the life of a woman scientist at a time when such a concept was inconceivable. The rest of her life is just as nonconformist, not surprisingly. I found this a good read.
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Different This novel allows the reader to become part of a world where one woman shows she can be a strong, resilient survivor in the face of everything a difficult family life and upbringing can throw at her. The wonderful and vivid descriptions of the amazing world of orchids and mosses carries the reader through the many years that span this incredible life journey. Could not put it down.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Different An excellent read. Moves along briskly and was hard to put down. I enjoyed this book more than Eat, Pray, Love. Highly recommendable.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Different The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert it's an historical fiction novel that enthrals a story of adventure, love and discovery. It sets, for the most part, in the eighteenth century and narrates the life of an extraordinary family. Henry Whittaker, a poor Englishman who became a botanical explorer and made a great fortune in the science field of medicinal plant development. Henry's wife, Beatrix Whittaker, is an expert botanist with a strong disposition. The central character, Alma Whittaker is a brilliant minded person who becomes a botanist as well. As Alma carefully studies moss and the mysteries of evolution within the mosses itself, many other naturalist such as Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace are desperate to understand the workings and mechanisms behind all life in different ramifications. Elizabeth Gilbert portraits an extraordinary era in human history when all the old assumptions about science, religion, commerce, and class were exploding into dangerous new ideas. This novel has an engaging plot that will take you across the globe from London to South America to Amsterdam to Philadelphia to French Polynesia and beyond. It will keep you captivated in the Enlighten era of the 1800's. Gilbert's exquisitely deep, sagacious and spellbinding tale is certain to capture the hearts and minds of readers.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Different I was disappointed in the book. There were portions written about her private times, that did not add anything to the book or storyline.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Different Interesting but rambles a bit. Good for long read on a quiet evening if you've nothing else to do. Not for those seeking excitement or an easy read. Its quite intense with the author expressing views on all sorts of topics. Personally I found it a little laborious and ended up skim reading large sections.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Different A new direction for Elizabeth Gilbert best known for Eat, Pray, Love however a wonderful read. The book moved at a steady pace and kept you wanting to read on. This book won't disappoint you. There is nothing predictable and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep you wanting more.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Different An easy ready with many levels and interesting characters. The story is always twisting and turning leading you to new adventures and new ideas.
Date published: 2014-01-23

– More About This Product –

The Signature Of All Things: A Novel

The Signature Of All Things: A Novel

by Elizabeth Gilbert

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 528 pages, 8.41 × 5.43 × 1.09 in

Published: June 24, 2014

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0143125842

ISBN - 13: 9780143125846

Read from the Book

PrologueAlma Whittaker, born with the century, slid into our world on the fifth of January, 1800. Swiftly—nearly immediately—opinions began to form around her. Alma’s mother, upon viewing the infant for the first time, felt quite satis­fied with the outcome. Beatrix Whittaker had suffered poor luck thus far generating an heir. Her first three attempts at conception had vanished in sad rivulets before they’d ever quickened. Her most recent attempt—a per­fectly formed son—had come right to the brink of life, but had then changed his mind about it on the very morning he was meant to be born, and arrived already departed. After such losses, any child who survives is a satisfactory child. Holding her robust infant, Beatrix murmured a prayer in her native Dutch. She prayed that her daughter would grow up to be healthy and sen­sible and intelligent, and would never form associations with overly pow­dered girls, or laugh at vulgar stories, or sit at gaming tables with careless men, or read French novels, or behave in a manner suited only to a savage Indian, or in any way whatsoever become the worst sort of discredit to a good family; namely, that she not grow up to be een onnozelaar, a simpleton. Thus concluded her blessing—or what constitutes a blessing, from so aus­tere a woman as Beatrix Whittaker. The midwife, a German-born local woman, was of the opinion that this had been a decent birth in a decent house, and thus Alma Whittaker was a decent baby. The bedroom had been warm, sou
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From the Publisher

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

Look out for Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, on sale now!

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 and who draws her in the exact opposite direction—into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose a utopian artist—but what unites this unlikely couple is a desperate need to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all life.

Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, The Signature of All Things soars across the globe—from London to Peru to Philadelphia to Tahiti to Amsterdam, and beyond. Along the way, the story is peopled with unforgettable characters: missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, geniuses, and the quite mad. But most memorable of all, it is the story of Alma Whittaker, who—born in the Age of Enlightenment, but living well into the Industrial Revolution—bears witness to that extraordinary moment in human history when all the old assumptions about science, religion, commerce, and class were exploding into dangerous new ideas. Written in the bold, questing spirit of that singular time, Gilbert’s wise, deep, and spellbinding tale is certain to capture the hearts and minds of readers.

About the Author

Look out for Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, on sale now! Gilbert is the #1 New York Times bestselling author ofEat Pray Love and several other internationally bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction. She began her career writing for Harper's Bazaar, Spin, The New York Times Magazine and GQ, and was a three-time finalist for the National Magazine Award. Her story collection Pilgrims was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award;The Last American Man was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The follow-up memoir Committed became an instant #1 New York Times bestseller. Her latest novel, The Signature of All Things, was named a Best Book of 2013 by The New York Times, O Magazine, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and The New Yorker. Gilbert’s short fiction has appeared in Esquire, Story, One Story, and the Paris Review.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for The Signature of All Things “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.  The Signature of All Things is 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, The New York Times Book Review   “Unlike anything Gilbert 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 fulfillment, the dubious rise of the pharmaceutical industry — are essentially modern… Gilbert has returned to her roots in fiction and written the sort of rip-roaring tale that would have been considered entertainment for the masses 150 years ago.” – Steve Almond, The New York Times Magazine   “The most ambitious and purely imaginative work in Gilbert’s 20-year career:  a deeply researched and vividly rendered historical novel about a 19th century female botanist.”– Alexandra Alter, The Wall Street Journal   “A  radiant novel…that rare literary achievement, a big, panoramic novel about life and love that captures the idiom and tenor of its age…Like Victor Hugo or Emile Zola, Gilbert captures something important about the wider world in The Signature of All Things:  a pivotal moment in history when progress defined us in concrete ways.” – Marie
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