The Signature of All Things

The Signature of All Things

By (author) Elizabeth Gilbert


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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.

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  • Paperback | 501 pages
  • 154 x 228 x 35mm | 622g
  • 01 Oct 2013
  • Penguin LCC US
  • Riverhead Books
  • English
  • 0670015857
  • 9780670015856
  • 85,887

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Author Information

Elizabeth Gilbert is the acclaimed author of five books of fiction and nonfiction. Eat, Pray, Love was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller, selling more than 10 million copies. The film adaptation starred Oscar winners Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem. Committed, a follow-up to Eat, Pray, Love debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Her works of fiction have also garnered widespread acclaim. Pilgrims was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Stern Men was a New York Times Notable Book. The Last American Man was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. She lives in Frenchtown, New Jersey. Visit, follow @GilbertLiz.  

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