The Signature of All Things: A Novel

by Elizabeth Gilbert

Penguin Publishing Group | October 1, 2013 | Kobo Edition (eBook)

The Signature of All Things: A Novel is rated 5 out of 5 by 1.
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 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: Kobo Edition (eBook)

Published: October 1, 2013

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1101638001

ISBN - 13: 9781101638002

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 2 out of 5 by from So-So I was dreading this book would be too much like the last two books I read by Gilbert and I'd get bored quick but it wasn't. It was fresh and would have been wonderful, but I lost interest with the sex descriptions. They weren't all that necessary and because of them I don't find myself recommending this book to friends or family. Its a shame that 5 pages out of 500 can have that effect.
Date published: 2013-09-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mixed Feelings (This is going to be a long one) Alma Whittaker is a woman of science. She lives in a world of plants and innovation. Her intelligence allows her easily to navigate complicated biological and scientific processes. It is real life she has trouble with. In a way, this novel is about her coming to terms with the need to study the intricacies of the human experience just as fervently as she studies her mosses. I am at odds with this book. On the one hand, Gilbert absolutely fascinated me with a certain "old world" charm. I loved the unique idea of a family of rich botanists, I liked the beauty and the care with which the characters regarded themselves and each other. I found Henry and Alma to be engaging characters, if a little strange. I like how Gilbert did not sacrifice the integrity of the book for typical characteristics of a bestseller. I like that there was no idealism in neither the plot, nor the in the characters. Still, though, I could not bring myself to love it. I was captivated only for the first 150 pages, the rest seemed to be written in moss time rather than in human time. It was slow, tedious and intricate. Although it was still enjoyable, it would be a more captivating story if it was 3/4 of the size. I kept wishing that all the exciting parts of Alma's life had happened earlier, and the ending had no definitive "ahhh, I understand now" feeling. It was as though something crucial was missing, and so it was more difficult to believe the sincerity of the story. To my surprise, Gilbert again revisits the theme of discovering some truth by travelling to a faraway exotic place -- whether that truth is about the self, about another, about paradise or about the strange workings of the heart. Wonder, beauty, divinity...they are all good old friends of Gilbert's work and they follow the Whittakers even through the stale, commonplace moments of their lives. I found this a little bit redundant, but other fans of Gilbert may enjoy these elements. Now although I wasn't thoroughly impressed with the book as a whole, I was impressed with Gilbert's courage to stretch herself into a new type of narrative where imagination reigns. I would still recommend this read, just make sure you give yourself a lot of time with this one.
Date published: 2013-09-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Engrossing, Page Turner with Fascinating Characters I think Elizabeth Gilbert has a gift, the ability to engross the reader with her writing. As a fan of her her previous book, Committed, I was not disappointed. The characters and the story itself are strong. I could tell that a lot of thought and research went into writing this book.Only low points were stereotypes but overall they didn't hurt my enjoyment of this book.
Date published: 2013-07-29

– More About This Product –

Kobo eBookThe Signature of All Things: A Novel

The Signature of All Things: A Novel

by Elizabeth Gilbert

Format: Kobo Edition (eBook)

Published: October 1, 2013

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1101638001

ISBN - 13: 9781101638002

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

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.