The Signature of All ThingsElizabeth Gilbert

The Signature of All Things

4 star

Total 1,304 Ratings

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert Book Summary

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.

The Signature of All Things (Elizabeth Gilbert) Book Reviews

The Signature of All ThingsA most remarkable novel!.Score: 5/5

The signature of all thingsCannot stop thinking about the story, the characters, the writing! This book is now a part of me!.Score: 5/5

The Signature of All ThingsBrilliant, intricate, intelligent story. Weaving art and heart and science in an easy voice. Important yet humble. Thank you to the author and all of the humble thinkers and writers that have come before and coexist now. More than 3 to be sure..Score: 5/5

The Signature of All ThingsWonderful characters to fall in love with! Great book with the exception of the overwritten experiences in Tahiti, loved it!.Score: 4/5

Expected moreThe positive reviews I read prior to selecting this book did not reflect my experience. Although the writing was sublime, the story itself lacked enjoyment. The characters were uninteresting at best and yet I kept reading hoping for more only to be sadly disappointed..Score: 2/5

TediousI did not care for this book at all, but stuck with it to the bitter end....painful. Unless you are a botanist or someone who hungers for detailed information about mosses, steer clear of this! I loved "Eat, Pray, Love" but Elizabeth Gilbert bored me to tears with this one..Score: 1/5

Awful!This book is extremely focused on naturalistic themes and botany- to a fault. I felt like I was reading a textbook on both topics sprinkled with a dust of human interactions. Elizabeth Gilbert was very, very disappointing..Score: 1/5

Great Read!Gilbert has done it again. If she continues she will become if she isn't already my favorite author of all time. It is difficult finding books that maintain my attention, but she definitely has done so. Well done Liz!.Score: 5/5

A Jewel of a BookCertainly one of the best books of this, or any, year. Not being a fan of Eat, Pray, Love, I was hesitant to order this, but am so glad I did. Beautifully written with such timely plotting and wonderful characterizations; just a delight..Score: 5/5

AmazingThe fastest, most engaging thousand pages you’ll ever read. I’ll never forget Alma and her amazing life that literally came alive in this story..Score: 5/5

The Signature Of All ThingsA profound and moving adventure book..Score: 5/5

The Signature of all ThingsVery good, intelligent prose, written to entertain and educate in the sense of raising thought provoking questions about man's existence both scientifically and spiritually; not new questions, but the book gives the reader perspective about how long this debate has gone on and haunted the human psyche. This assumes that animals also have a psychological framework, which I believe they do..Score: 5/5

SlooowwwBoring beyond belief..Score: 1/5

Surprisingly AwesomeI did not know what to expect, but I just loved it. So well written..Score: 5/5

Best work of her careerReally remarkable writing. Huge themes rendered in novel form. Enjoyable education..Score: 5/5

The Signature of EverythingThis is a Book. This is an exceptional experience. This is to be savored and shared much as a great feast. It is so complete a read as to make the reader satiated and hungry at once. What more could pen an paper offer? The descriptive prose set the scene, the story unfolds as the reader realizes that they are about to set upon an adventure and a quest of one woman for answers to questions only the great philosophers have pondered. Simple, direct, heart breakingly candid and full of life as a promise, real characters facing real human frailty, real ambition, real love and real consequence. Alma sets sail to find the answer to questions that most today barely acknowledge. Life is mystery and majesty... And a quest is a high offering. I loved it!.Score: 5/5

DisappointingI give her two points for character development and the beginning plot pulls you in, but it fades page by page..Score: 2/5

MEHNot the best book I have read!.Score: 2/5

Bittersweet, far reaching and comprehensiveI thoroughly enjoyed this book. As an avid reader it was nice to read a book that had both length and depth to it..Score: 5/5

Brilliant!Brilliant! Gilbert at her very best. Possibly her best writing to date. An epic by any measure- one that delights. I hated that it ended..Score: 5/5

A masterpiece!I’m not 68, very widely read, and a lover of many disciplines. This book ranks among the best I’ve read. It is quite simply a tour de force, spanning science, literature, psychology, history, religion, travel, and love. The author can expect to die happily, having left something of real value and inspiration for generations to come, much as Alma Whittaker felt in her last days..Score: 5/5

Beautifully Enticing LanguageMy favorite book of the year, the story of Henry Whittaker's legacy lived out by his daughter Alma in 19th century Philadelphia drew me in from the first page. The language is beautifully crafted and unassuming, adding elegance not arrogance to the plot. Alma's character is enduring, honest and surprisingly charming as you follow her from birth to death in a story that ranges from tragedy to romance. The book was a delight from cover to cover and left me in a positive state of existential questioning in the sincerest form..Score: 5/5

Signature of All ThingsOne of the most engrossing and excellent books I’ve read in the past decade..Score: 5/5

"The Signature of All Things" A lovely read!A well written and researched book which keeps you engaged from cover to cover. Alma's journey through life was filled with the quest for knowledge, but it was that which she could not understand that gave her wisdom..Score: 5/5

Why the sex?Fascinating book but I didn't get the value of the sexual graphics. Maybe that was also an element to Prudence's Problem?.Score: 4/5

Amazing story, beautifully toldThis story was fascinating, and incredibly well written. Elizabeth Gilbert knows how to use language. It is a romance, a generational saga, a travelogue, a history, and a scientific treatise—a masterpiece of fiction..Score: 5/5

Enjoyable read, great charactersIf you like well developed characters you’ll like this book. The relationships between the characters are wonderfully developed too. I also really enjoyed getting a glimpse into the development of science and botany over the course of the 19th century and I thought the details of Henry Whittaker’s journey from botany to pharmaceuticals was fascinating. My favorite part of the book would have to be the thing that bothered Alma the most: if kindness serves no evolutionary function why do we show it? It’s a good read. It slows towards the middle but picks back up for a good ending..Score: 4/5

The Signature of All ThingsIncredible! This books brings to life a world long gone and adds layers of a historical tapestry that completely engrosses the reader. I loved this book and wished it could continue on and on. All the characters were rich and dynamically developed - people one would wish to know. Plot twists made for an exciting story and it informed me about how science developed in the Victorian era. Awesome read!.Score: 5/5

Dry and endlessNeeds heavy editing ... and a plot..Score: 1/5

An exceptional, complex, exquisite storySuch a surprising book from the author of EPL! Complex, sophisticated, scientifically deep but not boring, emotional and surprising, reflective and inquisitive. I'm still processing it... A superb Ascher cut diamond!.Score: 5/5

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