Jean's Reviews > The Signature of All Things

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
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it was amazing
bookshelves: general-fiction

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the personal memoir Eat, Pray, Love, has hit her stride with this wonderful novel. The story is told of Alma Whittaker (Alma means "soul," although this isn't mentioned in the book), the daughter of an Englishman who made it good and a Dutch woman who believed that emotion has no part in life. Her father's story is told of how he made his fortune and moved to Philadelphia, where Alma was born in January, 1800. The story then switches to Alma. Although the book is long - almost 500 pages - it moves quickly with not too much description. The description is well done. I'm amazed at Gilbert's knowledge of subjects like tree pruning, mosses, orchids, and her descriptions of people are fantastic.

Alma is caught between the world of science and the emotions, as she leaves childhood and begins puberty, and she falls in love quickly and deeply, torn between her science and her emotional life.

Gilbert drops some nice breadcrumbs in the story but I blithely read on, coming to the truth about the same time Alma does. The book also caused me to think about the tension between scientific and spiritual/emotional subjects, and about family and kindness and madness and sexuality, and about life itself.

I don't give 5 stars lightly, and can say this is one of the best books I've read in the last few years.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
October 9, 2013 – Shelved
October 9, 2013 – Finished Reading

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Machel Loved your review Jean! I agree and think this book is exceptional!


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