Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The signature of all things - Elizabeth Gilbert

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 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.

My thoughts:
This was a well-written, well researched book that had me reading slowly. Which can be a good thing. Some books just take more time, I kind of savored it all slowly, instead of eating it up without swallowing. If that makes sense.

This book was all about Alma, and her father as it all started with him. How he grew up and created his empire. And then how Alma was born and grew up. She had a fascinating mind, so clever, so logical, so good. She spent decades studying moss! But then she had the money to do what she loved, and what she loved was books and learning. That girl knew more at 10 than I know now. She was raised to take care of herself and to be independent (had some good genes too ;). As this takes place during her entire life you'd expect much to happen, but Alma is not that kind of woman. Like I said, she spent decades studying moss. Her upbringing was interesting, with her constant questioning of the universe and life. 

Other characters we meet are,  her sister who is all calm and ice, her crazy friend, her first crush, the man she falls in love with, and other people, strange and new she meets as she moves away. But what is constant in this book is the love of botany. And of course we learn what the signature of things is. That is when she wonders about what she has learned, that all things in nature has a meaning, made by God. But as Alma is all logic then that makes no sense. But it's an interesting concept.

A scholarly kind of book. I also felt sad for her at times because she wanted things she did not get. But she just went on in life, so nothing to feel sad about for long.

Conclusion:
An interesting book that made me think, wonder and just enjoy it for what it was.

cover
It may not be all look at me, but it works and there insides of the book is really pretty too

Paperback, 512 pages
Published June 24th 2014 by Penguin Books (first published October 1st 2013)
Historical fiction
For review


36 comments:

  1. This does sound like one to take a long time with. Maybe a good beach day read.

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    1. It's not one you breeze through in a couple of hourse

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  2. Although is sounds like an interesting book, I don't think it's for me. Great review.

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  3. I've heard a lot about this author, so I definitely want to check out her work and am glad you enjoyed this one so much. Fantastic review! :)

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    1. It's really good, and yes I had heard a lot about her but never tried her books

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  4. Ive seen this on IG, it has another cover that's pretty spectacular. So did the moss play a significant role in the story aside from just being her interest?

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    1. Moss made her think of something, but what you have to see for yourself

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  5. Sometimes I crave books that make you slow down and slowly take it all in

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  6. This sounds like a book I would like to savor slowly too, and I bet it would get me thinking. I need to add this to my list, glad to hear you enjoyed it!

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    1. I love all my books. Escapism, making me feel happy, and those that make me think. I love them all :)

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  7. Yep, sounds like my kind of book. I've seen this one around and have been curious.

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  8. It sounds different and interesting. Maybe one day.

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  9. A book I would enjoy (and hey, what a lovely review!)

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    1. Thank you Miss. And for once, yes I can say, this one is for you ;)

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  10. I have this one on my wishlist. My first Gilbert book was, of course, "Eat, pray, love" and I think one of the reasons for me loving it so much was the author herself reading the audiobook. It was magical and Elizabeth Gilbert has such a calm and wonderful voice. So I was kind of disappointed when I looked for this book and couldn't fin a audio where the author herself read the story. Oh well, I want to read this book nonetheless. Lovely review! Books can be enjoyed slowly too, it all depends on the content.

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    1. I watched the movie, it was pretty meh. I do think reading or listening would have been better with that one.

      She does not narrate? Oh well :/

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    2. I can understand that a lot of people would find this to be a meh book/movie. E,P & L was for me one womans quest of inner calmness, peace and search of self and not my usual cup of tea, still I loved it. I really enjoyed the movie also.For me the story represented "the good life"(or a good life at least, mine is good, don't get me wrong, just not that calm and I am not that calm as a person either lol). I wish I could have been a little more like Elizabeth Gilbert and a little less dependent on my mobile and computer ;)

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    3. I am so not calm, but I could have appreciated it, in another life ;) I do not have the money or time to be that calm either. I am way too addicted to my internet too. Alas, so not for me. But it would be nice

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  11. Sounds like a good book for book groups - lots to discuss.

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    1. I was thinking while I read that dang! I need a bookclub. Cos there was this one thing that I reeeeally wanted to discuss

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  12. Sometimes taking your time with a book is a sign of it being good. :)

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    1. Then there are the slow boring ones, haha, but this is not one of those

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  13. I love the cover on this- it sets the tone you gave perfectly.

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  14. This really isn't my kind of book but of course I need to read it because of the botany aspect. I'm so happy to hear how much you liked it. I hope I do too.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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  15. It did it again!! So, if I'm having multiple comments, you'll know why. Anyway, sounds good. I'll keep it in mind for when I need a break from the action ;)

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    1. Blogger has been a real B lately. I am going crazy

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