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The Signature of All Things

Gilbert, Elizabeth (Book - 2013 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Signature of All Things
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" 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. "-- Provided by publisher. "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. 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"-- Provided by publisher.
Authors: Gilbert, Elizabeth, 1969-
Title: The signature of all things
Publisher: New York, New York :, Viking,, [2013]
Characteristics: 501 pages :,illustrations ;,24 cm
Statement of Responsibility: Elizabeth Gilbert
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. "-- Provided by publisher.
"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. 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"-- Provided by publisher.
ISBN: 9780670024858
0670024856
Branch Call Number: FICTION GILBERT 2013
Subject Headings: Women botanists Fiction Painters Fiction Enlightenment Fiction Industrial revolution Fiction
Genre/Form: Historical fiction
Topical Term: Women botanists
Painters
Enlightenment
Industrial revolution
LCCN: 2013017045
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Library Staff

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 Ph... Read More »

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 Ph... Read More »


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Jul 23, 2014
  • joalo rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A truly remarkable yarn covering a wide range of topics and fields with larger than life characters, improbable settings and written in a very readable style.

May 12, 2014
  • CynScribbler rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Beautifully written historical novel with visual settings and engaging characters. Perhaps a few too many descriptions of moss, making the novel a tad longer than necessary, but on the whole, well worth a recommendation.

May 04, 2014
  • Tish1NYC rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

I'm obviously in the minority here but I found this book almost unreadable. Too many plot contrivances and so much fuss.

Mar 29, 2014
  • lpodell rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Loved! Great character, string interesting woman, nice Darwin connection

Feb 27, 2014
  • ehbooklover rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

This one’s tough. At times I couldn’t put the book down. At times I wondered why I was reading it. That really shouldn’t be a surprise as I had a very similar experience with Gilbert’s memoir “Eat, Pray, Love”. Perhaps a bit more editing would have helped. That said, in the end I did enjoy this exploration of one woman’s experiences during a time of great debate between science and spirituality.

Jan 22, 2014
  • GummiGirl rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Entertaining, if not always believable. For anyone interested in novels about 19th century women in science, I would recommend Tracy Chevalier's "Remarkable Creatures" more than this book.

Jan 10, 2014
  • mrsgail5756 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

The book was okay – but not one of my favorites.

Dec 26, 2013
  • rowanquincy rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A homely woman who studies moss is an unlikely pageturner, but I found it to be so, and was sorry when it ended. Loved the unusual characters and the unexpected twists in the plot. I appreciated the botanical details and pictures.

Dec 15, 2013
  • jazpur rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A very well constructed novel which links the fictional characters with those of history so that they are entirely believable.An unusual and fascinating view of the world of Darwinian thought.It made compelling reading.

Dec 14, 2013
  • deborahjohnston rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A thoroughly entertaining story. Linking fictional charachters with historical figures gives the story such credibility, that you feel Alma is real and you hope she finds love. Readers of this would also enjoy Bryce Courtenay's Jessica, The Potato Factory or Matthew Flinders Cat.

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