Signature of All Things (Gilbert)

Book Reviews
The most ambitious and purely imaginative work in Gilbert’s 20-year career: a deeply researched and vividly rendered historical novel about a 19th century female botanist.
Wall Street Journal

Gilbert has mulled, from the confines of her desk, the correlations of nature, the principle that connects a grain of sand to a galaxy, to create a character who does the same—who makes the study of existence her life’s purpose.  And in doing so, she has written the novel of a lifetime.
Oprah Magazine

After 13 years as a memoirist, Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) has returned to fiction, and clearly she’s reveling in all its pleasures and possibilities. The Signature of All Things is a big, old-fashioned story that spans continents and a century.... The story begins with Henry Whittaker, at first poor...but in the end the richest man in Philadelphia. In more detail, the story follows Henry’s daughter, Alma....a prodigy.... [T]here is much pleasure in this unhurried, sympathetic, intelligent novel by an author confident in her material and her form.
Publishers Weekly

(Starred review.) [D]igressing at will into areas ranging from botany to spiritualism to illustration, [Gilbert] tells the rich, highly satisfying story of scholar Alma Whittaker.... Gilbert, in supreme command of her material, effortlessly invokes the questing spirit of the nineteenth century, when amateur explorers, naturalists, and enthusiasts were making major contributions to progress. Beautifully written and imbued with a reverence for science and for learning, this is a must-read.  —Joanne Wilkinson

Gilbert's sweeping saga of Henry Whittaker and his daughter Alma offers an allegory for the great, rampant heart of the 19th century.... The dense, descriptive writing seems lifted from pages written two centuries past, yet it's laced with spare ironical touches and elegant phrasing.... Multiple narrative threads weave seamlessly into a saga reminiscent of T. C. Boyle's Water Music, with Alma following Ambrose to Tahiti and then returning alone to prosper at Hortus Botanicus, thinking herself "the most fortunate woman who ever lived." A brilliant exercise of intellect and imagination.
Kirkus Reviews

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