Elizabeth Gilbert’s book seamlessly writes about the lives of the Whittaker’s between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Signature of All Things is divided into five parts; the first part is all about Henry Whittaker, the man who started it all. We learn about the man who has built his botanical empire from scratch, and we learn how he went from rags to riches. The second through the fifth parts slowly focuses in on Alma Whittaker, the brilliant and single heir to the Whittaker empire. Alma has the whole world at her disposal right in her backyard; the best and most beautiful plants, trees, flowers and other species can be explored, investigated, and thoroughly learned there. This is one of Alma’s best qualities – her need to know absolutely everything about anything, and to her satisfaction. Alma is always the apple of Henry’s eyes; not even her beautiful adopted sister, Prudence, can be held in the same light as Henry does with Alma. As Alma ages, she finds herself running her father’s business, and as the years slowly pass by, she remains a spinster even through her miraculous marriage with Ambrose Pike, an exceptional man who is considerably younger than her. Ambrose represents everything that Alma does not believe in; he is quick to put faith into anything no matter how ridiculous, whereas she requires scientific facts before she can even believe anything that is being fed to her. Eventually, through guilt, shame, and her desire to understand everything, she finds herself on the other side of the world, in Tahiti and eventually ends up in Amsterdam. Elizabeth Gilbert writes a gripping novel about a time when the sea was the only way of travelling, and where major evolutionary theories were challenged.
I strongly urge you to buy the physical book instead of an eBook! It’s so beautiful! The amazing book cover and the fantastic images throughout the book were just mind blowing; I doubt you can get the same beauty through a screen! This book is definitely worth the trip to the book store. Gilbert’s novel really reflects the cover; they are simple yet so beautiful and captivating in so many ways. I really like her writing style, and when I first picked it up, I expected it to be a fast paced novel but I was proven wrong. It stretches throughout the lifespan of Henry and Alma Whittaker, which is in need of a slow, methodical approach that truly reflects the daily lives of a brilliant and an intriguing family. The slow pace of the novel was new to me, but it was easy to adapt to.
The Signature of All Things is a book jam packed with characters that you can’t help but fall in love with. To me, the characters make the book and I love to be able to relate with the characters that I am reading about. We ‘grow up’ in a way, with most of the characters youth, adulthood, and old age. The characters reflect what life is about: we’re born, we live, and we die. While we live, we go through heartbreaks, disappointments, and friendships that die out. Everything that can happen in someone’s lifetime happens all in this book, and this could be really overwhelming at times. I think that’s because I’m still pretty young. I’m sure that responses to this book will vary greatly between the ages of people who read this. Someone who has been through the same experiences as Alma will find this book meaningful and will probably relate to it easier than I can.
Nonetheless, Elizabeth Gilbert has written a noteworthy novel and it has been one of the best books that I’ve personally read in a while. I recommend this book to people who enjoy authors like Jodi Picoult,or Danielle Steel. This book could not have been written any better than it was; Elizabeth Gilbert is a fantastic story teller who creates characters that everyone can relate to. Overall, this book gets 9.5/10 stars from me!
There are also a few videos on YouTube that are interesting to watch.
This link is for the book trailer, which is really interesting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgungmlfYwk
And this link features Elizabeth Gilbert herself talking about The Signature of All Things : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vc6Da_tld18 ….so when you have a chance, make sure to check these links out!
What do you think about the book? Let me know in the comments below!