The Signature of All Things

If you love a long period-piece novel spanning multiple decades, then  The Signature of All Things is for you. Then again, even if you’re not a fan of fair-skinned maidens sporting cinched corsets, I’d safely say you could very well pick this book up and enjoy it. Give it time though, it is by no means a short read!

Penned by none other than Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame, The Signature of All Things speaks a totally different language and looks at the world during a poignant turning point of the modern era. Spanning the 18th and 19th centuries, the novel follows the movements, ups, downs and riches of the Whittaker family at a headlong pace. Predominantly circulating the brilliant Alma Whittaker from birth, the story follows her through childhood and adolescence, through to her adult years as she attempts to find love (often in the wrong places!), find herself and expand on her passion for moss. (Yes, moss, as in the furry green stuff on rocks).

Impeccably researched with a true insight into the world of horticulture and botany, The Signature of All Things is beautifully written; the language cloaked in effortlessly descriptive prose. As I found with Eat, Pray, Love however, The Signature of All Things, for me, encountered a section about three-quarters of the way through which kind of lost me and dragged me along, wondering “what’s the point?” and “where is this all going?” It was almost as if the story wandered off track, Gilbert tried a little too hard, or perhaps it was just my frustration as loose ends weren’t tied up the way I’d hoped they’d be. That said, it wasn’t long though before the pace picked up and I was left with an ending which settled quite well.

A mostly satisfying read, The Signature of All Things transported me through a few lifetimes of exotic world travel (via ship on the rolling seas, obvs), heartache, self discovery, wealth, love, plants and loss. Spanning England, Amsterdam, Taihiti, Peru, and Philadelphia, the journeys and destinations made for tales not to be forgotten.

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