The Signature of All Things - Elizabeth Gilbert

The Signature of All Things

By Elizabeth Gilbert

  • Release Date: 2013-10-01
  • Genre: Literary
Score: 4
From 936 Ratings


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.


  • Signature of All Things

    By LRL820
    One of the most engrossing and excellent books I’ve read in the past decade.
  • Brilliant!

    By davidsumnernyc
    Brilliant! Gilbert at her very best. Possibly her best writing to date. An epic by any measure- one that delights. I hated that it ended.
  • Surprisingly Awesome

    By TWJane
    I did not know what to expect, but I just loved it. So well written.
  • Bittersweet, far reaching and comprehensive

    By DeDaSon
    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. As an avid reader it was nice to read a book that had both length and depth to it.
  • The Signature of All Things

    By Artinspireswonder
    Brilliant, intricate, intelligent story. Weaving art and heart and science in an easy voice. Important yet humble. Thank you to the author and all of the humble thinkers and writers that have come before and coexist now. More than 3 to be sure.
  • Great Read!

    By Roger Cole
    Gilbert has done it again. If she continues she will become if she isn't already my favorite author of all time. It is difficult finding books that maintain my attention, but she definitely has done so. Well done Liz!
  • The Signature Of All Things

    By Susan Bjornson
    A profound and moving adventure book.
  • Why the sex?

    By Staynavytom
    Fascinating book but I didn't get the value of the sexual graphics. Maybe that was also an element to Prudence's Problem?
  • Disappointing

    By Fsugrad82
    I give her two points for character development and the beginning plot pulls you in, but it fades page by page.
  • Expected more

    By Mrs. PRW
    The positive reviews I read prior to selecting this book did not reflect my experience. Although the writing was sublime, the story itself lacked enjoyment. The characters were uninteresting at best and yet I kept reading hoping for more only to be sadly disappointed.