The Signature of All Things: A Novel

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Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated, Oct 1, 2013 - Fiction - 512 pages
2227 Reviews
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.

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Poetic writing,tight and well-researched. - Goodreads
A muddled book with no real plot and no real ending. - Goodreads
Excellent story telling. - Goodreads
I love the fast paced, lyrical style of her prose. - Goodreads
Lengthy, scientific explanations in fiction bore me. - Goodreads
Intesting premise and well written. - Goodreads

Review: The Signature of All Things

User Review  - Nick Duretta - Goodreads

This impressive novel tracks the life of Alma Whittaker, a wealthy horticulturist's daughter who follows a journey (not unsurprisingly) similar to the one in Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love"--trying to ... Read full review

Review: The Signature of All Things

User Review  - Amy Hyde - Goodreads

Would give this book a 4.5 if I could. I had avoided this author and especially this book. I was never impressed with Eat Pray Love and the sequel. The summary didn't sound interesting at all. But WOW ... Read full review

About the author (2013)

Elizabeth Gilbert is an award-winning writer of both fiction and nonfiction. Her short story collection, Pilgrims, was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and her novel, Stern Men, was a New York Times Notable Book. Her 2002 book, The Last American Man, was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is best known for her 2006 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, which has been published in more than thirty languages; a film based on the memoir, starring Julia Roberts, opened in August 2010. Her most recent book, the memoir Committed: A Love Story, appeared in 2010. In 2008, Time magazine named Gilbert one of the most influential people in the world. Her Web site is

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