Signature of All Things
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.
The New York Times bestseller Elizabeth Gilbert's first novel in twelve years. An extraordinary story of botany, exploration and desire, spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
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 -- Jane Shilling Daily Telegraph Gilbert has written the novel of a lifetime O, The Oprah Magazine 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 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 Astute and funny ... comes with generous helpings of optimism and romance. Cynics need not apply Irish Sunday Mirror Ambitious, boldly imagined and packed with authenticating detail, it engages very boldly with the interaction of art and science Andrew Motion, Guardian Gilbert reminds readers she can do, and undo, narratives through impeccably observed and original stories Independent Gilbert shows herself to be a writer at the height of her powers O Magazine Magnificent ... I was just a few pages into the book when I felt myself relax, aware that I was in the safe hands of a master story-teller -- Anna Carey The Irish Times My own 500-pager of choice? Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things ... just read it ... Hugely enjoyable -- Viv Groskop Observer Books of the Year
Elizabeth Gilbert is the acclaimed author of five books of fiction and non-fiction. She is most well known for her 2006 bestseller Eat, Pray, Love, which has sold over ten million copies worldwide and was made into a film starring Julia Roberts. Her short story collection Pilgrims was nominated for the PEN/Hemingway Award, her novel Stern Men was a New York Times Notable Book and The Last American Man was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent work, Committed, was a Number One New York Times bestseller. Elizabeth Gilbert lives in New Jersey. www.elizabethgilbert.com Find Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @GilbertLiz