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The Signature of All Things: A Novel af…
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The Signature of All Things: A Novel (original 2013; udgave 2014)

af Elizabeth Gilbert (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
3,5171973,718 (3.91)235
" 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. "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. he 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"-- wise, deep, and spellbinding tale is certain to capture the hearts and minds of readers. "--… (mere)
Medlem:Carolina.Nicole
Titel:The Signature of All Things: A Novel
Forfattere:Elizabeth Gilbert (Forfatter)
Info:Riverhead Books (2014), Edition: First Edition, 528 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:Ingen

Værk information

The Signature of All Things af Elizabeth Gilbert (2013)

  1. 80
    Mirakelfloden af Ann Patchett (zhejw)
  2. 60
    Forunderlige skabninger af Tracy Chevalier (ddelmoni, vwinsloe)
  3. 30
    Narhvalens Rejse af Andrea Barrett (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: At the heart of these richly detailed, elegantly written historical novels are naturalists whose ocean voyages lead not only to scientific discovery but also to a greater understanding of human behavior. Vivid descriptions and well-developed supporting characters enrich both stories.… (mere)
  4. 10
    The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World af Michael Pollan (zhejw)
    zhejw: Alma would have loved this nonfiction book that explains how several plants "used" their relationships with humanity to their evolutionary advantage.
  5. 00
    The Discovery of Jeanne Baret: A Story of Science, the High Seas, and the First Woman to Circumnavigate the Globe af Glynis Ridley (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  6. 00
    Curiosity af Joan Thomas (ShelfMonkey)
  7. 00
    Euphoria af Lily King (sturlington)
  8. 00
    Galapagos Regained af James Morrow (ShelfMonkey)
  9. 00
    Unsheltered af Barbara Kingsolver (crittergirl)
  10. 00
    This Thing of Darkness af Harry Thompson (crittergirl)
  11. 00
    Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses af Robin Wall Kimmerer (aprille)
    aprille: I'd lay dollars to donuts this book was a source for a couple of the scenes in the book. Robin Wall Kimmerer is thanked in the acknowledgments.
  12. 00
    Captain Cook's Voyages af James Cook (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Major source of inspiration for Elizabeth Gilbert.
  13. 01
    Letters from Yellowstone af Diane Smith (amarie)
    amarie: Also a woman scientist in the 19th century. Less epic in scale but more focused on one woman's adventure and study.
  14. 01
    The Origin: A Biographical Novel of Charles Darwin af Irving Stone (ddelmoni)
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Engelsk (195)  Spansk (1)  Fransk (1)  Alle sprog (197)
Viser 1-5 af 197 (næste | vis alle)
I read this book some time ago but it was chosen for the Garden Book Club and so I have read it again - I had forgotten how much there was about sex/desire in it.

Alma Whittaker is raised in a household with everything. Her father had a rags to riches story to become one of the richest men in Philadelphia, a true American Dream of a man, and her mother, of Dutch descent, had a marvellous brain and believed that girls should be educated. She was an only child, growing up in a mansion with amazing greenhouses that stored all the rare and unusual plants that her father had shipped home. Her father loved to invite all the best scientific minds to his dining table to hear what they had to say. At one ball he hosted a guest expert in astronomy who marshalled the whole slightly drunk party into a human version of the planets and their moons. At the very heart, as the sun, was Henry Whittaker with his flaming red hair and travelling around him were the men as planets. Circling them, as moons, were the women and finally Alma was given a torch and dashed around like a pinball as a comet. This wonderful description managed to convey not just the solar sytem but was also a commentary on society, with Henry at the centre and women at the outer edges. It is up for debate whether, at the end, Alma's life had been lived as a comet.

When a sister was adopted, Alma came to understand that she was not pretty and nor did she attract men because of her looks, although her mind more than made up for this. But of course, looks do not care about desire and so, set in the 1800s, Alma started to desire but also realised how lonely she was - it is a story that is often both full and empty. After meeting and marrying Ambrose Pike, she realised that her unconsumated marriage was never going to work and banished him to Tahati to oversee their vanilla plantation, where he died.

Alma was a scientist who studied mosses, a bryologist, and who lost her self in this miniature world whilst all around her was failing. Her passion for the subject carried her through her grief and she became an expert in the subject, distinguishing between moss time (a very long time) and how it is different to geological time and even human time. Through this study she came to develop a theory of transmutation, how all living things change according to their environment and that only the strongest survive and pass on their traits. It's just that she wasn't the first to have these thoughts and to write about them.

The writing is wonderful, almost distanced as if writing a scientific report about Alma's life but also descriptive. Because of its length, there is plenty of time to develop the characters, we really do get to to know Alma and her father very well. There are moments of wit and poignancy. When describing Beatrix, Alma's mother, Gilbert writes;

Decidedly, this woman was not a coquette. She dressed in the full spectrum of colors that one associates with common house sparrows.
p49

Whilst there are many themes, this book is about the relationship between science and God or religious belief and how the two in the 1800s seemed to be at odds. In some circumstances they still are. It explores the need to explain and find out why things are as they are in nature but also allows for something greater.

On a more prosaic note, none of the three women who are married have 'happy' marriages. Beatrix marries a man who dominates, who is grumpy and argumentative. Prudence, Alma's sister, doesn't marry the man she loves and who loves her and Alma's marriage is a complete failure through lack of communication.

It's a great book - as good the second time of reading as it was the first. ( )
  allthegoodbooks | Jul 8, 2024 |
34% in and I'm throwing in the towel.

I want to like this book but I just seems to drone on and on with no purpose. I feel as if I am reading a book of lists interrupted randomly with bursts of Alma (main character) confessions to reading dirty books or masturbating. Weird.

I was a fan of Gilbert's first novel but a really disliked Eat, Pray, Love. I think now I'm done with her for good. ( )
  hmonkeyreads | Jan 25, 2024 |
I enjoyed listening to this book. Alma was a very interesting character and I loved all the science woven through the book. The narration was glorious....she sounded a lot like Emma Thompson and I could have listened to her all day long. Overall, I liked the book but did not love it. But it was a good read/listen! ( )
  Bebe_Ryalls | Oct 20, 2023 |
Once again, Elizabeth Gilbert takes your breath away. Who knew a book that focused on botany could be so vibrant? Actually, the world of botany serves to define and illuminate the life of the main character, Alma Whittaker. Does Gilbert have a degree in botany? I don't know, but, if not, the amount of time she must have spent to learn all she imparts in this book is mind-boggling!

In a way, Gilbert also seems to "channel" Barbara Kingsolver, another author I love, but, for the most part, she makes this story her own.

The best part of this story is just when you think the end is near, Alma's life takes another path (all leading in the same direction and conclusion, we learn) exploring a new environment, personality of people, and discussion of means people live their lives. ( )
  schoenbc70 | Sep 2, 2023 |
Alma Whitaker kept me company a few chapters at a time each night for about a week. I'm happy I gave Elizabeth Gilbert another go. After the disappoint that was Eat, Pray, Love (which, after the Eat section became too tedious to complete), it took viewing Gilbert's TED talk and a bit of time for me to trust her with my reading time once more.

Admittedly, I'm a sucker for historic fiction, BUT only if it reads with ease and a bit of surprise. Gilbert's writing flows so effortlessly that, between readings, I found myself missing Alma and her odd family as if they were long-lost relations now reintroduced into my life. I appreciate Gilbert's careful research that makes Alma's fascination with botany vividly credible.

Spoiler Alert! What I did not like was Gilbert's carefully constructed "inevitable situation" between Alma and the Tahitian Tomorrow Morning. Naked with a much younger (almost) stranger and the fulfillment of a lifelong fantasy. Really? Oh well.

Favorite bits: the early life of Alma's father, the shift in Alma's perception of her sister, Alma's unpublished paper and the scientists to whom she feels connected because of it. ( )
  rebwaring | Aug 14, 2023 |
Viser 1-5 af 197 (næste | vis alle)
Should finally redefine Gilbert as a writer with an incredible sense of lyricism, and a rare command of and confidence in her story...She makes broad, unresolvable premises — regular-ish human life, with its aspirations and humiliations, her own or her character’s — look easy, by taking nothing for granted, making sharp and unrelenting observations and framing it with a rare positivity and sense of possibility.
 
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. “The Signature of All Things” is 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.
tilføjet af zhejw | RedigerNew York Times, Barbara Kingsolver (Sep 29, 2013)
 

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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. "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. he 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"-- wise, deep, and spellbinding tale is certain to capture the hearts and minds of readers. "--

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