The Signature of All Things Author:Elizabeth Gilbert Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this sweeping novel follows the fortunes of the Whittakers -- a family of botanical explorers, led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker, a poor-born Englishman who makes his fortune in the South American quinine trade and swiftly becomes the richest man in the New World. His daughter, Alma... more », born into great luxury in 1800, becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself.
She is brilliant and insatiable, driven by an unquenchable sense of wonder, and also by a desperate need to understand the hidden mechanisms behind all life itself. But as Alma's research takes her deeper into the central mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man who draws her in the opposite direction -- into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical.
Exquisitely researched and told at a breathless pace, The Signature of All Things soars across the globe -- from London and Peru to Philadelphia, Tahiti, 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 is Alma Whittaker -- a true and tireless seeker who stands at an extraordinary moment in human history when all the old assumptions about science, religion, commerce, and class were exploding into dangerous new ideas.« less
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This was an interesting read. The story line is very plausible and it kept me moving forward, wanting to know what happened next. I learned quite a bit about nature, especially about mosses, and other plants and about cultural mores in the 19th century. I was a bit surprised at some of the sexual themes, so I would not share this book with young teenagers. Which, to me, is a shame because there is so much more to recommend it.
This book tell the intimate and social changes one women goes through in her life time. This story captured my attention from beginning to end. It is filled with intricate details. I enjoy how Mrs. Gilbert has a way of writing that can transport you to this time era.(1800-).