5th January 1800. At the beginning of a new century, Alma Whittaker is born into a perfect Philadelphia winter. Her father, Henry Whittaker, is a bold and charismatic botanical explorer whose vast fortune belies his lowly beginnings as a vagrant in Kew Gardens. Alma's mother, a strict woman from an esteemed Dutch family, is conversant in five living languages (and two dead ones) and her knowledge of botany is equal to any man's. An independent girl with a thirst for knowledge, it is not long before Alma comes into her own within the world of plants and science. As Alma's careful studies of moss take her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, the man she comes to love draws her in the opposite direction - into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose is a Utopian artist. But what unites this couple is a shared passion for knowing - a desperate need to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all of life. The Signature of All Things is a big novel, about a big century. It soars across the globe from London, to Peru, to Philadelphia, to Tahiti, to Amsterdam. Peopled with extraordinary characters - missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, geniuses and the quite mad - most of all it has an unforgettable heroine in Alma Whittaker, a woman of the Enlightened Age who stands defiantly on the cusp of the modern.
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LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WELLCOME BOOK PRIZE
From the moment Alma Whittaker steps into the world, everything about life intrigues her. Instilled with an unquenchable sense of wonder by her father, a botanical explorer and the richest man in the New World, Alma is raised in a house of luxury and curiosity. It is not long before she becomes a gifted botanist in her own right. But as she flourishes and her research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, the man she comes to love draws her in the opposite direction - into the realm of the spiritual, the divine and the magical.
The Signature of All Things soars across the globe of the nineteenth century, from London and Peru, to Philadelphia, Tahiti and beyond. Peopled with extraordinary characters along the way, most of all it has an unforgettable heroine in Alma Whittaker.Review:
Unlike anything else she has ever written ... Its prose has the elegant sheen of a 19th-century epic, but its concerns - the intersection of science and faith, the feminine struggle for fulfilment - are especially modern -- Steve Almond International Herald Tribune The story of Alma Whittaker's journey of discovery has irresistible momentum -- Helen Dunmore The Times Ms Gilbert has established herself as a straight-up storyteller who dares us into adventures of worldly discovery, and this novel stands as a winning next act ... A bracing homage to the many natures of genius and the inevitable progress of ideas, in a world that reveals its best truths to the uncommonly patient minds -- Barbara Kingsolver International Herald Tribune Charming and compelling ... A big novel in all senses - extensively researched, compellingly readable and with a powerful charm that will surely propel it towards the bestseller lists Daily Telegraph Gilbert has written the novel of a lifetime O, The Oprah Magazine Riveting -- Eithne Farry Marie Claire Sumptuous ... Gilbert's prose is by turns flinty, funny, and incandescent New Yorker Quite simply one of the best novels I have read in years ... a bejewelled, dazzling novel -- Elizabeth Day Observer Readers prepared to enter Gilbert Time will be rewarded: she is an unflaggingly curious writer, prone to delightful touches ... Gilbert's period interests seem boundless - she explores everything from self-sacrifice, to homosexuality, Darwinism and Victorian pornography ... This is a novel to be chewed over, slowly -- Lucy Atkins Sunday Times A botanical odyssey through the nineteenth century, global in ambition, revelling in the period's insatiable curiosity about the world ... a tall tale, told with verve and wit Guardian Filled with dazzling storytelling -- Susie Boyt Financial Times The book's locales are captured in glittering portraits ... Breathtaking ... The Signature of All Things is a bracing homage to the many natures of genius and the inevitable progress of ideas, in a world that reveals its best truths to the uncommonly patient minds -- Barbara Kingsolver International Herald Tribune A charming and compelling fictional journey of self-discovery ... This is a big novel in all senses - extensively researched, compellingly readable and with a powerful charm that will surely propel it towards the bestseller lists -- Jane Shilling Daily Telegraph Viscerally written -- Eleanor Mills Sunday Times Gilbert writes superbly well -- Wendy Holden Daily mail An intricate, beautifully written historical novel ... A passionate paean to the 19th-century women of science who strove for achievement against the odds -- Anita Sethi Metro Gilbert's observations, of both characters and locations, make this an unexpected joy and in Alma she has created a truly unforgettable heroine -- Anita Chaudhuri Irish Examiner
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Book Description Riverhead Books, 2014. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: Praise for The Signature of All Things "Gilbert has established herself as a straight-up storyteller who dares us into adventures of worldly discovery, and this novel stands as a winning next act. The Signature of All Things is a bracing homage to the many natures of genius and the inevitable progress of ideas, in a world that reveals its best truths to the uncommonly patient minds." Barbara Kingsolver, The New York Times Book Review "Unlike anything Gilbert has ever written.Its prose has the elegant sheen of a 19th-century epic, but its concerns the intersection of science and faith, the feminine struggle for fulfillment, the dubious rise of the pharmaceutical industry are essentially modern. Gilbert has returned to her roots in fiction and written the sort of rip-roaring tale that would have been considered entertainment for the masses 150 years ago." Steve Almond, The New York Times Magazine "The most ambitious and purely imaginative work in Gilbert's 20-year career: a deeply researched and vividly rendered historical novel about a 19th century female botanist." Alexandra Alter, The Wall Street Journal "A radiant novel.that rare literary achievement, a big, panoramic novel about life and love that captures the idiom and tenor of its age.Like Victor Hugo or Emile Zola, Gilbert captures something important about the wider world in The Signature of All Things : a pivotal moment in history when progress defined us in concrete ways." Marie Arana, The Washington Post "A delightful" book.one of the best of the year.Gilbert marries the technical, cultural and spiritual with a warm, frankly funny wit that adds richness to all three, her central character's evolution going lockstep with her actual discovery of evolution. This kind of storytelling is rare one in which an author can depict the particulars of a moss colony as skillfully as she maps the landscape of the human heart." Lizzie Skurnick, "All Things Considered," NPR "Gilbert's sumptuous third novel, her first in thirteen years, draws openly on nineteenth-century forebears: Dickens, Eliot, and Henry James.Gilbert's prose is by turns flinty, funny, and incandescent." The New Yorker "Engrossing. The Signature of All Things is one of those rewardingly fact-packed books that make readers feel bold and smart by osmosis. Alma commits her life to ceaseless study, but reading this vibrant, hot-blooded book about her takes no work at all." Janet Maslin, The New York Times "Gilbert has mulled, from the confines of her desk, the correlations of nature, the principle that connects a grain of sand to a galaxy, to create a character who does the same who makes the study of existence her life's purpose. And in doing so, she has written the novel of a lifetime." Katie Arnold-Ratliff, O, The Oprah Magazine "A fabulous read.Gilbert has returned to fiction with a boisterous historical novel about a 19th-century botanist named Alma Whittaker.Alma's fabulous brain is a hot pot of scientific knowledge, lonely feminist turmoil and erotic longing. All of which makes her an irresistible character to accompany through history and around the world." Helen Rogan, People "[An] action-packed tale.Gilbert's latest work has modern resonance.her engaging, lively style is once more on display along with an impressive versatility. Few among the legions of contemporary memoir writers could turn out a novel as imaginative as this one." Clare McHugh, The Wall Street Journal "Raucously ingenious. Signature is not just a historical novel that spans two centuries and many geographies. It's a 500-page novel of ideas.I found unshackled joy on every page." Beth Kephart, The Chicago Tribune "A beautiful rumination on a life from start to near end, specifically the life of stubborn, talented, nineteenth-century-Philadelphia-dwelling Alma Whittaker.the real treat of the text is Gilbert's lyrical writing. She manages to spin the study of mosses into. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0143125842
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