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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.

Related:
Committed
The New Men
Margaret Fuller
The Idea Factory

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4 Responses to “THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS: A Novel ~Elizabeth Gilbert (New York Times Bestselling author of EAT PRAY LOVE)”

  1. sara Says:

    Well, your review made me curious and I clicked on the book to read a few pages. It definitely draws the reader in with how it begins with Alma’s birth.

    This is an interesting time in history. I liked the idea of “plant medicinals.” It’s interesting how we are slowly circling back to this form of medicine.

    This was another excellent review, Patricia.

    Separate from the review, I hope you are feeling better and recuperating well from your surgery. Do be good to yourself, okay? Warm regards…:~)
    sara recently posted..Thinking Thursday: Can You Be Ordinary?My Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Sara,
    I so enjoyed this book and the actor reading it was amazing. I needed this history lessons before I read 2 more books which I will be reviewing soon.

    I will certainly read this book again in the future.

    Thank you for your kind words – they are greatly appreciated.

    I am recovering from the surgery nicely and am pleased with the results. I have gotten an infection post antibiotic treatment and am having quite a bout to find recovery – things are looking up however and that is the best news so far :) Thank you for asking

    Book reviews a bit slower paced for the moment…
    Patricia recently posted..THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS: A Novel ~Elizabeth Gilbert (New York Times Bestselling author of EAT PRAY LOVE)My Profile

  2. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    Patricia — As an HHP (Holistic Health Practitioner) board certified with the AADP (American Association of Drugless Practitioners), I was particularly drawn in by:

    “Alma’s father began one of the first Pharmaceutical companies based on plant medicinals.”

    Needless to say, this book has been added to my reading list. Thank you once again for a beautiful book review. I appreciate YOU!
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted..Carriage House JournalMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Thank you Laurie – I appreciate you – it’s just elementary dear Watson!

    I do not usually do Oprah books or even one this big because this author is pulling up the publishing possibilities for new authors and small press folks. I am so happy I made the exception to my rule with this one…it has set the stage for at least 6 of the books I have reviewed this year – what a fertile period of time it was and now that we are moving into this new era of technology and the end of industrialization and fossil fuels etc., it left me open to possibilities that seem wonder full to explore and even embrace.

    I think you will really enjoy the botanical studies and the love found here – and what a writer
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