The Signature of All Things

The Signature of All Things

Audiobook on MP3 CD - 2013
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Traces the multi-generational saga of the Whittaker family, whose progenitor makes a fortune in the quinine trade before his daughter, a gifted botanist, researches the mysteries of evolution while falling in love with an utopian artist against a backdrop of the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.
Publisher: [Ashland, OR] : Blackstone Audio, Inc., p2013
ISBN: 9781482927801
1482927802
Branch Call Number: FIC
Characteristics: 2 audio discs (approximately 21.5 hr.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in

Opinion

From Library Staff

This is the story of Alma Whittaker, an intelligent and wealthy 19th century woman who is a gifted botanist. In a world where the term ‘scientist’ has not yet been invented, she pursues her interests in the natural world in step with Darwin’s theories, while yearning for knowledge, friendship and... Read More »


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Pamela_D
Aug 25, 2019

I was not a fan of Eat Pray Love but I've enjoyed podcasts w Elizabeth Gilbert so I tried this. Part 1 is fantastic; the story of Henry Whittaker is totally engrossing. Then however, the narrative tanked. The story of the daughters is endless and uninteresting. Prudence could be excised from the book all together and nothing would be lost. Gilbert is a super talented writer and there's great history here but it just goes on & on. The narrator, Juliet Stephenson, is a total delight! 5 stars for her!

WestSlope_TheaH Aug 21, 2018

An engrossing historical fiction set in the 17th and 18th centuries about a family of botanical explorers. Read if you like strong female characters and learning about the history of science. Bonus---a great narrator!

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Barbaravee
Sep 14, 2017

I thoroughly enjoyed Juliet Stevenson's extraordinary reading of Elizabeth Gilbert's luminous writing, and after 21 1/2 hours of listening, was desolate when It came to its end. Impossible to even touch upon its multiple story lines and in -depth characterizations. My only advice is to read this amazing novel, learn so much from it and be happy. 5 STARS.

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spiderfelt_0
Jan 29, 2017

Oh how I adored this book. I was initially curious about the book and later enchanted by the story. In Big Magic, Gilbert described the 4 years she spent researching and writing a book considered flawed and too long by many, but which she loved nonetheless. So alive was the central character, I looked up her name to see if there was a historical basis. The cadence of Alma Whittaker's speech entered my mind and wouldn't let go.

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wtbarrett
Aug 12, 2016

Disappointing. Long and rambling story that lacked substance and a point. I'm sorry I didn''t stop listening after the 2nd or 3rd CD.

d
Daj_O
Oct 29, 2015

This was an enjoyable book to listen to, although there were several chapters where the protagonist goes to Tahiti which don't add anything to the narrative and could have been edited out.

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fletcherk
Aug 28, 2015

I have really enjoyed listening to this title. It has an interesting story and it is unlike most things that I have read by Elizabeth Gilbert before. It has a very good narrator which might actually make the book more enjoyable.

t
TheresaAJ
Mar 24, 2015

I'm not sure I would have chosen this book on my own. It's the March 2015 selection for the Willa Cather Book Club. This historical novel explores the life of Alma Whittaker, an heiress born in 1800 to an English father and a Dutch mother. Alma is destined to take the road less chosen and has the means to explore her interest in botanicals in America, Tahiti, and Holland. This novel is written in the same style as Charles Dickens and Wallace Stegner. Lots of detailed description about the new ideas and theories being explored in the 19th century, the world-wide mania for botanicals, and the cost of unpopular ideas such as abolition, evolution, etc.

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becker
Oct 02, 2014

As someone who was not a great fan of Eat, Pray, Love, I was pleasantly surprised with this book. It is a very ambitious, solid story filled with interesting historical scientific advances in medicine, botany etc. For the most part I really enjoyed this. It does have sections that are slow and bogged down with detail but it always picks up again and the stellar performance of the narrator added such a nice storytelling aspect to it, that I rather enjoyed just relaxing and taking it all in. This book is the type that is greatly enhanced by the audio production. I'm sure I would have struggled through it in print.

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mkitty6258
Sep 05, 2014

This is marvelous as literature, history and pure literary fiction.
The CD is truly perfect - the reader Juliet Stephenson was a magnificent choice.

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