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All I really knew about Elizabeth Gilbert before picking up her new novel was that she had written Eat, Pray, Love, a memoir detailing her search for spiritual enlightenment in the wake of a marital break-up. I haven’t read the book yet, it is on my shelf. I have not read Eat, Pray and love because I watched the movie first. I am waiting for the movie to discard itself from my mental treasure trove then read the books that build Elizabeth Gilbert. I am 100% sure the movie disservice the book. I will let you know once I read it.


The Signature of All Things, Gilbert’s sixth book and her second work of full-length fiction, is quite simply one of the best novels I have read in years. The mention of Elizabeth gilberts tugs an image of glorified self-help writer. The Signature of all things kills the self-help writer image.

In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert fiction book inserts inimitable voice into an enthralling story of love, adventure, and discovery. It tells the story of Alma Whittaker, born in 1800, in the midst of a Philadelphia winter. It follows Alma’s life from birth to old age; it is written in a beautiful manner and invites the reader to accompany her on her travels. It is the story of an irrepressible woman, determined to satisfy her most powerful urges toward both love and knowledge. You will just love Alma.A novel spinning on love and “all Things” Botanical.

The book is exploring the humble life of a pioneering female botanist. Her father, Henry, is a self-made titan: one of the three richest men in the western hemisphere, with a fortune built on a thriving import-export business dealing with exotic plants.
Though the story centered on the life of Alma Whittaker, daughter of Henry Whittaker, the book takes as its first focus not the book’s heroine, Alma Whittaker, but her rough-and-tumble father, Henry an illiterate Englishman who makes a fortune importing botanical plants before settling with his Dutch wife in Philadelphia. Henry used every mean within his grasp to rise from poverty to wrestle wealth from a scornful and resistant world.

Alma has few friends — really just her beautiful sister and one other girl, and she’s pretty much decided that she’s going to be a spinster. The study of mosses fills her life.
She focuses mainly on her science instead of relationships… which eventually allows her to examine the concept of evolution. Alma’s life is simultaneously tremendously full and despairingly empty. One of the more unsettling themes of The Signature of All Things is Alma’s habitual masturbation. This was one of the most refreshing aspects of the book for me. Whilst her academic needs are fulfilled, Alma almost desperately wishes for love, and a warm loving relationship. Gilbert depicts Alma’s lack of sexual knowledge versus her sexual frustration perfectly.
She just doesn’t meet many people who can follow her to the amazing places that her mind takes her. However, when she meets Ambrose Pike, her life is turned upside down. He is an artist who paints gorgeous orchids, and he introduces Alma to the world of the spiritual. Alma’s husband, Ambrose Pike, offers her a marriage filled with deep respect, spiritual love, intellectual adventure—and positively no sex.

Through her relationship with Ambrose, Alma begins to look at all of life and question how it works. Her initial impressions of science are also called into question and she becomes one of the brightest minds in evolution theory.

Through Alma’s life, THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS takes readers all over the world and vividly demonstrates the amount of change taking place during this exciting time. I met the great evolutionists Alfred Russell Wallace and Charles Darwin.

I went to Tahiti through the book. It was the most enthralling travels I have had with a book. I enjoyed seeing the world through the pages of this book. I love how Gilbert wove Alma. To me, she was a real person. A botanist and a scientist-writer. She was born when female writers used pseudo names, initials or a male pen name in order to combat sexism and prejudice. Tough era I tell you. The story blended well with what was going on during the 19th century.
Alma experiences the heights of passion and the utter depths of loneliness. She nearly circles the globe in search of answers, both to scientific mysteries and to the inexplicable riddles of the human heart. Hence the title SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS.

THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS is a big book — I read it in hardcover and it weighs a ton. It’s not a quick read, and yet the story does move at a steady pace. I was never bored reading it.

Apart from it being enjoyable, it is an educative book. A novel immersed in all the great questions of the nineteenth century, The Signature of All Things is also very much a novel of our times.
The book is brilliantly researched. This novel taught me a thing or two about history and science. The main themes are- the role of women, science, religion, class structure, friendship, love, parent/child relationships, evolution, curiosity, and sexuality.
Highly recommended to fans of historical fiction. Buy this book. Not on Kindle. Hardcover. You will want to read it more than once.

Impact of the book on me:-

I am a botanist. I can comfortably lecture as bryologist and tell the different species of mosses and their evolution…I can arguably tell the relation between moss and algae in latin.I can proudly name each orchid with its scientific name and how pollination mechanism for the vanilla orchid work with my eyes closed. I am a princess of science…Haha haha

I can go ahead and take you to Tahiti and it’s islands for tour and name all the best places. I can tell you their history. I can tell you how they were lured to Christianity yet they were ssuperstitiousI can take you through the plights of the first missionaries and make you understand introducing new ideas is not for the faint at heart. I can evoke your emotions in both spiritual and intellectual realm.
I can also introduce you to Charles Darwin theories and how initially his work was met with critiques yet he never relented. He was among the 19th century freemasonry which was the thinking class.
I can introduce you to spiritualism, hypnotism and mesmerism. I can prove that one can die a virgin at 80s.
I can dare you into adventure of worldly discoveries in the 18th and 19th century through by being the wild unbridled thinkers read THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS BY GILBERT ELIZABETH….

Esther Wavinya


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