Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Review: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

Publisher: Viking Adult
Pages: 512
Received: Received an ecopy from the publisher through Netgalley/Edelweiss

Release Date: October 1, 2013
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Goodreads 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.

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.

My Review:

I believe that Elizabeth Gilbert has a great writing style, she really gets into the mind of her characters and readers get to see that person grow. In this book, you follow people in the Whittaker family, mainly Henry and his daughter Alma. I really loved Alma's story and her growth over the book, she was an interesting character with such an amazing mind.

This is a long book and I will say that it took me quite a bit of time to get through it but there is so much information and the book chronicles such a large span of years. Alma loses herself in her research, she has learned so much from her parents and has a very scientific view of the world, she is intrigued by everything around her and continually wants to study nature.

Alma eventually falls in love with a man, Ambrose, who is so different from what she is used to and yet she is so intrigued by this man. I really loved the relationship between Ambrose and Alma is described beautifully, both of these characters have such a unique view of the world and it is their minds that bring these two together. Alma learns a lot from Ambrose about love and life, even though at times she may be disappointed with what she finds. The connection that Elizabeth Gilbert writes for these two is a connection that many dream of. Alma and Ambrose have such a spiritual connection that is so beautiful.

This book goes all over the world during some of the most difficult times, great locations that are filled with many interesting characters that really help Alma along over the years. The things Alma learns along the way is really history in the making, a lot of interesting ideas pertaining to human nature. There is also the undertone of science and religion becoming at odds with one another in this book, Elizabeth Gilbert took a very interesting topic to many people and created so many lives around it. But the characters are really what made the book, I have always loved characters that question everything and that is exactly who Alma was. 

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