THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS: A Novel ~Elizabeth Gilbert (New York Times Bestselling author of EAT PRAY LOVE)
On Facebook, Audible.com offered me a free copy of THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS. I was delighted because I wanted to read this book even before it was published as I truly relish Gilbert’s writing voice. The precision and language usage I always find awesome, it transports me, my reading skills improve and I find challenge which pushes me to better analysis and understanding.
I have been reading Gilbert’s stories for a long time, as a friend of mine discovered her cowboy stories in a men’s magazine and he passed them along as he knew I would like her style. I have not been disappointed. I am sure I could write 500 words about the writing. I will say Ms. Stevenson the reader of this audible book was just so skilled also and it allowed me to recover from a small surgery while keeping my eyes closed and my ears attentive. The book is over 500 pages, and that was a perfect recovery time.
Alma Whittaker was born in Philadelphia on her father’s estate just a few days into the 1800s. Her father Henry Whittaker began life as a poor man in England who worked in a garden as a tree pruner. He had a business sense and he learned Botany from the earth and the plants and the skills of others. He was determined to be wealthy and was quite an entrepreneurial fellow. He found a strict Dutch wife who would have this newly wealthy man who was also a Botanist and together they forged a path into the Age of Enlightenment with determination. Alma’s father began one of the first Pharmaceutical companies based on plant medicinals. Their home was a laboratory for guests and wisdom and all the new found science and knowledge. The education of Alma was rigorous and futuristic. Alma became a Botanist in her own rights, delving into the norms of evolution and changing minds.
The story reveals all the changing mores of this time period. The Quaker Movement against slavery and their new schools, the beginning fight for women’s rights, the preparation for the industrial revolution, the rise of public education, the changing religious traditions, and the scientific exploration and explosion of ideas are all explored. Books were more readily available and more printers established publishing houses. Because Alma was isolated on her family’s estate, she showed us how the world was changing with each venture forth with fresh vision and appealing analysis. We are taken to Peru, South Seas islands, and then back to Europe; the end of the story finds Alma about 95 and living in Amsterdam with her Mother’s younger brother. An historic saga, or an adventure story I am not sure if I need to classify this work as anything more than a great reminder of history and discovery. THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS was a marvelous read and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes exquisite writing and complete story telling with lots of details.
This novel was the perfect way to start a year of reading and reviewing. The history provided the historic back story to 4 more books on my review list. I was better prepared to read these other stories and understand the context of the shared time periods and appreciate what the 19th Century provided to the global evolution of human kind, opened the door to medical breakthroughs and paved the technological outreach of today. The format of an audible book was perfect for me to use while driving or healing, although I was frustrated with not being able to go back and make notes, underline, and find a beginning quote for this review. I hope all of my daughters will read this book and maybe I can persuade one of my book groups; the length makes it prohibitive.
Thank you to Audible.com for sharing this book with me. THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS is an excellent read.
Tags: Amsterdam, beauty, Botany, Elizabeth Gilbert, England, historic fiction; 1800-1895; Age of Enlightenment, knowledge shifts, learning, love, Medicine, Peru, Pharmaceutical Companies, Philadelphia, Printing, Quakers, Slavery, THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS, Women’s Suffrage