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The signature of all things

by Gilbert, Elizabeth, 1969-

Format: Print Book 2013
Availability: Available at 34 Libraries 35 of 44 copies
Available (35)
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Community Library of Allegheny Valley - Harrison Fiction FIC GILBERT
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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, Big Magic, and City of Girls

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.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "*Starred Review* Gilbert, the author of the phenomenally successful memoir Eat, Pray, Love (2006), returns to fiction with her first novel in 13 years, and what a novel it is! Taking her sweet time and digressing at will into areas ranging from botany to spiritualism to illustration, she tells the rich, highly satisfying story of scholar Alma Whittaker. Born to Henry Whittaker, the richest man in Philadelphia, who rose from his station as the son of a lowly gardener to an import tycoon, Alma has the benefit of wealth and books, spending hours learning Latin and Greek and studying the natural world. But her plain appearance and erudition seem to foretell a lonely life until she meets gifted artist Ambrose Pike. Their intense intellectual connection results in marriage, but Ambrose's deep but unorthodox spiritual beliefs prevent them from truly connecting. Alma, who has never traveled out of Philadelphia, embarks on an odyssey that takes her from Tahiti to Holland, during which she learns much about the ways of the world and her own complicated nature. 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. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The publisher is pulling out all the stops for the high-profile author, including both print and online campaigns and an author tour; Gilbert's celebrity may also draw off-the-book-page interest.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2010 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "From the author of Eat, Pray, Love comes this sweeping tale of one family's journey from rags to riches. Spanning two centuries and set in numerous countries, the novel follows the exploits of the Whittaker family, beginning with Henry Whittaker, an impoverished man from England who makes his fortune in South America. With such a massive narrative task at hand, narrator Stevenson never ceases to impress in this lengthy yet enriching performance. Her English accent and sensitive but firm reading perfectly matches the author's prose. The reading is clear and steady, and Stevenson creates a sense of intimacy between herself and the listener that never dissipates during the course of this audio edition. A Viking hardcover. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Women botanists -- Fiction.
Painters -- Fiction.
Enlightenment -- Fiction.
Industrial revolution -- Fiction.
Historical fiction.
Publisher New York, New York :2013
Language English
Notes Viking Penguin is a memeber of Penguin Group.
Description 501 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
ISBN 9780143125846 (pbk)
0143125842 (pbk)
9780670024858 (hardback)
0670024856 (hardback)
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