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I was not among the zillions of readers who loved Elizabeth Gilbert's mega-best-selling memoir Eat, Pray, Love, so I was a little surprised to find myself intrigued by a long profile of her and her new novel, and very pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed The Signature of All Things.
This novel is the story of the life of Alma Whittaker, born in 1800, the daughter of Henry Whittaker, botanical thief-turned-explorer-turned-pharmaceutical millionaire, and Beatrice van Devender Whittaker, daughter of a Dutch family of learning and science. Alma takes after both her parents in various ways, and The Signature of All Things follows Alma from childhood to the end of her life, a time that spans an era of scientific discovery, and a time of tensions between new discoveries and traditional beliefs. This is a story of the desire for knowledge, family, unrequited love and passion, which takes Alma around the globe.
Gilbert has created a remarkable story, rich with surprises and detail.
Recommended by Catherine