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Synopsis

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

Look out for Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, on sale now!


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.

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    Great book, first one of hers that I have read, but will be looking for more by her now

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    It's been a while since I've fallen into a book as quickly and happily as I have with Elizabeth Gilbert's latest novel. I am absolutely enthralled by the writing. I love the characters and I am loathe to finish the book because I don't want to say goodbye to them. The story has evoked gasps, laughter, and already a few tears, as well as a few moments of, "I never knew that!" Truly a fantastic book.

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    The Signature of All Things

    Great story of a courageous woman. Entrancing and stimulating!

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    I am wondering if Elizabeth Gilbert is a better fiction writer than a non-fiction writer after reading this book. Profound, delightful and feminist - an unbelievable combination.

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    The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert it's an historical fiction novel that enthrals a story of adventure, love and discovery. It sets, for the most part, in the eighteenth century and narrates the life of an extraordinary family. Henry Whittaker, a poor Englishman who became a botanical explorer and made a great fortune in the science field of medicinal plant development. Henry's wife, Beatrix Whittaker, is an expert botanist with a strong disposition. The central character, Alma Whittaker is a brilliant minded person who becomes a botanist as well. As Alma carefully studies moss and the mysteries of evolution within the mosses itself, many other naturalist such as Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace are desperate to understand the workings and mechanisms behind all life in different ramifications. Elizabeth Gilbert portraits an extraordinary era in human history when all the old assumptions about science, religion, commerce, and class were exploding into dangerous new ideas. This novel has an engaging plot that will take you across the globe from London to South America to Amsterdam to Philadelphia to French Polynesia and beyond. It will keep you captivated in the Enlighten era of the 1800's. Gilbert's exquisitely deep, sagacious and spellbinding tale is certain to capture the hearts and minds of readers.

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