I’ve just finished The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, and as one of the few people in the world who has not read Eat, Pray, Love, or seen the Julia Roberts’ film adaptation. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
The story focuses on a series of relationships against the backdrop of botany in the 1800s. Our heroine, Alma Whitaker, is the only biological daughter of Henry and Beatrix. They live with an adopted sister Prudence, on an immense estate in Philadelphia called White Acre. It is in this environment that Alma is encouraged to question and study any and everything that fascinates her, but as the family fortune is based on Henry’s affinity with flora and commerce. She soon becomes as adept as her father in all things plant related.
This story, which spans nearly the entire 19th century, takes us along as a young, decidedly rough around the edges Henry Whitaker embarks on the series of journeys that lead us to White Acre. You can feel the rough seas on his travels to Tahiti with Captain Cook. You feel the mountainous terrain under your bare feet in Peru. How important are the mosses? What can we learn? How does it impact Alma and her family as the years pass?
At first glance, just from a purely physical standpoint—yes, I did attempt to read an actual hardcover book—it was a fairly thick book and it didn’t look like light summer reading. However, once I found the eBook and focused solely on the amazing story, Ms. Gilbert has a new fan.
I was pleasantly surprised by how invested I became in this book because it isn’t my usual summer light reading. But the characters, including the plants, were so invitingly written that I couldn’t wait to get to back to them as soon as my schedule and four children would allow. I enthusiastically recommend “The Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert. by Tina Guyden