The Signature of All Things

The Signature of All Things

by Elizabeth Gilbert
3.8 213

Paperback(Large Print)

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The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

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. Look out for Elizabeth Gilbert’s newest book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. 

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594137853
Publisher: Gale Group
Publication date: 06/24/2014
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 884
Sales rank: 1,319,509
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Elizabeth Gilbert is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat Pray Love, Big Magic, and several other internationally bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction. She began her career writing for Harper's Bazaar, Spin, The New York Times Magazine and GQ, and was a three-time finalist for the National Magazine Award. Her story collection Pilgrims was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award;The Last American Man was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The follow-up memoir Committed became an instant #1 New York Times bestseller. Her latest novel, The Signature of All Things, was named a Best Book of 2013 by The New York Times, O Magazine, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and The New Yorker. Gilbert’s short fiction has appeared in Esquire, Story, One Story, and the Paris Review.


Hudson Valley, New York

Date of Birth:

July 18, 1969

Place of Birth:

Waterbury, Connecticut


BA, New York University, 1991 (Political Science)

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The Signature of All Things: A Novel 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 213 reviews.
SpikePA More than 1 year ago
This book was 520 pages of awesome. Could not put it down. The research that went in to this book plus the obvious intelligence of the writer made this a wondrous read from start to finish. I have been a lover of books for greater then 50 years now and am putting this in my top ten of all time favorites.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This amazing work stays with you past the very last line Beautiful, haunting and satisfying the reader enters the antisceptic world of science and learns of natural selection only to find out that each amazing discovery via Alma's eyes/work is truly a discovery and disection of the human heart! Superb and highly recommended!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A lovely tale spanning beyond a century. Beautifully written, researched with the most unique, in depth characters I've seen in so long.  Wonderful!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this novel very much for several reasons. I enjoy historical fiction and also I love horticultural history as well as the period of time which this story took place. I would definitely recommend it to people who enjoy these qualities in a novel. If you are looking for a quick light read-this isn't the book for you.
BaltimoreReader More than 1 year ago
I was angry at this book when I was done reading. It hooks you because you keep expecting a transformative, game-changing experience for the main character but instead you get more of the same depressing, meaningless nothing. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to agree with another review that stated they only got through it because they had spent money purchasing it! I had to struggle to get through this book even though I am an avid reader. I found it dull & boring. One of the worst books I've read in a long time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am in awe of anyone who writes a novel, because I know how much work it takes. And I bought this book with great expectations. But I really did not like it. As others have said, most of the interesting part was in the first few chapters. I only finished it because I had spent money on it. I thought the main character was not realistic and that the things she did in the book were not realistic for a person in her time. None of the characters seemed real to me, so I didn't really care much what happened to them. Frankly, in spite of all the research that obviously was done in order to write it, the book didn't seem very smart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel will appeal to readers interested in horticulture, history of science and exploration, women's issues and psychology. The plot is detailed, descriptions exotic and vivid, characters memorable. This is an involving read, excellent for book clubs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reading this was a little like watching moss grow. The author was very ambitious in the scope of the story, but it would have been more satisfying to have had a bit more dimension to the characters and not quite so many locales. I am an avid reader and was looking forward to this book after reading several good reviews, but it was very tough to slog through and the characters never grabbed me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Her best book to date and hard to put down. Her talent is rare and her research of life in the nineteenth centry is remarkable. Buy this and share with someone you care about.
sreeves More than 1 year ago
This is the kind of book you're unable to put down when you begin reading. There are surprises around every page - surprises you would never even expect. And it pulls at your heart, it makes you FEEL for the characters and the events that unfold. It's terrifyingly realistic, yet beautiful and imaginative. What an amazing read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a book you dont want to hurry through. It is such a nicely written books, one of those that just dont come along often. Very very nice.
PierresFamily More than 1 year ago
Signature of All Things - 3 stars After starting out with such high expectations, I finished this book with mixed feelings. The scientific writing was great! For those of us who are science geeks, but whose knowledge lies in other fields, the taste of botany was informative! I felt that though there was excessive text about her father, Alma was well-developed as a character. However, there was way too much continuing emphasis on her and her husband’s sexual proclivities, and this detracted from what would otherwise have been a extrraordinary book about a pioneering female scientist. This book was good, but could have been so much better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed with this book. I found it very interesting in the beginning, but soon went down hill with the main character's obsession with her body. I
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a strong woman for her times. I learned so many fascinating things about plants, places, people and an insight into another period of history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a waste of time. Only continued to plod through this predicable and loathsome tome because I had spent the money and was hopeful something interesting would take place. After 444 pages Alma has a encounter that made no sense. The characters were underdeveloped and uninteresting. My recommendation is to read anything else!
sdsunset2 More than 1 year ago
This books is interesting, boring and very long, all at the same time. It could have used some strong editing. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Begins as 19th century adventure story but altimately becomes a repetitive saga of alma's joyless sexual frustration. I read it because it was on nyt top 100--why?
karatepen More than 1 year ago
The signature of all things,is a major book.E.Gilbert tackles major issues and intertwines a staggering amount of research and knowledge in a story full of insight,tenderness and passion.Although the language is simple,I appreciated her linear format.The depth of the understanding of her characters will grab and delight you as they interplay brilliantly with theory,science and human struggle.A seriously intelligent and erudite novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent Page turner. Interesting look at the time period.
MartaGS More than 1 year ago
Wonderful characters, and ideas, lots of ideas. Keeps you guessing where the tale will lead.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great story of love and self-discovery.  I really enjoy Elizabeth Gilbert's writing style.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kiss ur hand three times ppst this on three other books and look under ur pillow
WyoReaderCC More than 1 year ago
This is a basically interesting story but there is sometimes an overabundance of detail that does nothing to contribute to the story but rather becomes a distraction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to force myself to finish this book. I respect the research that had to go into this book - the scientific ventures, portraying society as it would have been in that time period - however, it was just too drawn out and dull for my taste. Very disappointed.