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2 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

The Signature of All Things

by

The Signature of All Things Cover

 

Staff Pick

The Signature of All Things amazes, in part, because it is so unexpected. Gilbert is in full mastery of this historical tale about one woman's unquenchable thirst for the knowledge of life, science, love, biology, language, and botany. Alma struggles through both the pinnacle of happiness and the pain of personal loss, but underneath her emotions is the always-soothing quest for knowledge. Gilbert's fiction is so compelling; this is a truly fantastic story full of heart and intelligence and beauty.
Recommended by Dianah, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 fathers 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.

Review:

“Gilbert has established herself as a straight-up storyteller who dares us into adventures of worldly discovery, and this novel stands as a winning next act. The Signature of All Things is a bracing homage to the many natures of genius and the inevitable progress of ideas, in a world that reveals its best truths to the uncommonly patient minds.” Barbara Kingsolver, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

“Unlike anything Gilbert has ever written…Its prose has the elegant sheen of a 19th-century epic, but its concerns — the intersection of science and faith, the feminine struggle for fulfillment, the dubious rise of the pharmaceutical industry — are essentially modern… Gilbert has returned to her roots in fiction and written the sort of rip-roaring tale that would have been considered entertainment for the masses 150 years ago.”  Steve Almond, The New York Times Magazine

Review:

“The most ambitious and purely imaginative work in Gilberts 20-year career:  a deeply researched and vividly rendered historical novel about a 19th century female botanist.” The Wall Street Journal

Review:

“A radiant novel…that rare literary achievement, a big, panoramic novel about life and love that captures the idiom and tenor of its age….Like Victor Hugo or Emile Zola, Gilbert captures something important about the wider world in The Signature of All Things:  a pivotal moment in history when progress defined us in concrete ways.” The Washington Post

About the Author

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 website is www.elizabethgilbert.com.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780143125846
Author:
Gilbert, Elizabeth
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
20140631
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
512
Dimensions:
8.04 x 5.44 x 0.7 in 0.54 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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The Signature of All Things Used Trade Paper
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Product details 512 pages Penguin Books - English 9780143125846 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

The Signature of All Things amazes, in part, because it is so unexpected. Gilbert is in full mastery of this historical tale about one woman's unquenchable thirst for the knowledge of life, science, love, biology, language, and botany. Alma struggles through both the pinnacle of happiness and the pain of personal loss, but underneath her emotions is the always-soothing quest for knowledge. Gilbert's fiction is so compelling; this is a truly fantastic story full of heart and intelligence and beauty.

"Review" by , “Gilbert has established herself as a straight-up storyteller who dares us into adventures of worldly discovery, and this novel stands as a winning next act. The Signature of All Things is a bracing homage to the many natures of genius and the inevitable progress of ideas, in a world that reveals its best truths to the uncommonly patient minds.”
"Review" by , “Unlike anything Gilbert has ever written…Its prose has the elegant sheen of a 19th-century epic, but its concerns — the intersection of science and faith, the feminine struggle for fulfillment, the dubious rise of the pharmaceutical industry — are essentially modern… Gilbert has returned to her roots in fiction and written the sort of rip-roaring tale that would have been considered entertainment for the masses 150 years ago.” 
"Review" by , “The most ambitious and purely imaginative work in Gilberts 20-year career:  a deeply researched and vividly rendered historical novel about a 19th century female botanist.”
"Review" by , “A radiant novel…that rare literary achievement, a big, panoramic novel about life and love that captures the idiom and tenor of its age….Like Victor Hugo or Emile Zola, Gilbert captures something important about the wider world in The Signature of All Things:  a pivotal moment in history when progress defined us in concrete ways.”
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