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The Signature of All Things cover art

The Signature of All Things

By: Elizabeth Gilbert
Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
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Summary

Bloomsbury presents The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, read by Juliet Stevenson.

Shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize.

Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction.

A captivating story of botany, exploration and desire, by the multi-million best-selling author of Eat Pray Love.

Everything about life intrigues Alma Whittaker. Her passion for botany leads her far from home, from London to Peru to Tahiti, in pursuit of that rare specimen: knowledge. But as her careful studies draw her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she meets the man who she will come to love - whose perspective, radically different from her own, will transform the way she understands the world. 

Radiating with all the heart, soul and earthiness as its unforgettable heroine, The Signature of All Things is a captivating celebration of the workings of this world, and the mechanisms behind all life.

©2013 Elizabeth Gilbert (P)2013 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group US

Critic reviews

"Unlike anything else she has ever written.... Its prose has the elegant sheen of a 19th-century epic, but its concerns - the intersection of science and faith, the feminine struggle for fulfilment - are especially modern." (Steve Almond, International Herald Tribune)

"The story of Alma Whittaker’s journey of discovery has irresistible momentum." (Helen Dunmore, The Times)

"A botanical odyssey through the 19th century, global in ambition, revelling in the period's insatiable curiosity about the world...a tall tale, told with verve and wit." (Guardian)

What listeners say about The Signature of All Things

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Lovely intricate tale

I loved it and In the end wished there were more chapters. It was slightly melancholy and went along with a smooth momentum that I love in a book. If I had one tiny criticism it would be how detailed it was. Not sure erotic is the right word, raunchy. Not sure. I’m no prude but even I was having an ‘oh myyyy’ moment.
My only experience of Elizabeth Gilbert is the movie eat prey love to which I will probably buy the book to see if it was given justice. The story telling was brilliant and the narration by Juliet was perfect. A clear articulate voice that managed each character and accent perfectly. Highly, strongly, fervently recommend you listen to this book. 👍

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14 people found this helpful

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A fascinating and beautiful story

If you love wide ranging, adventurous and yet measured stories about a woman who has a most extraordinary life in a past era, you’ll enjoy this immensely. Juliet Stephenson does a magnificent job reading it! Author Elizabeth Gilbert brings history and science to a tale of a woman who was an oddity in her time and yet would have thrived in our modern times - able to pursue a life of discovery and intellect and yet always longing for love from people who could not give it to her in the way she hoped.

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4 people found this helpful

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the title IS the book

the book embraces everything. I will keep looking for the solution to the Prudence problem. excellent reader as well. Thank you!

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3 people found this helpful

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What a wonderful book!

I loved every minute of this extraordinary book, so beautifully read by Juliet Stevenson (though in common with almost every British reader I’ve ever heard she doesn’t quite get her Dutch pronunciation right). I lived in Amsterdam for 20 years, and used to give guided tours in English at the Hortus, so I know it well, and that made the last part of the book particularly enchanting for me, but even if you have never left your own little corner of the planet, this story will transport you far and wide and back in time to experience another, very particular life; the life of Alma Whittaker. Enjoy!

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All surface no substance

A bizarre collection of emotionally unconnected chapters with no form or cohesion. The entire section in Tahiti could have been left out and no one would have noticed, it added nothing to the characters, plot or story arc. I nearly gave up at the dull listing of Henry’s early life and now wish I had. Lovely prose and a great reading but what a pointless purpose for them.

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Loved it!

Myself and my wife are lifetime gardeners and so I thought this book would be entertaining. Indeed it was. I loved how it started so far back in time to her grandparents then her parents. This gave such a good, solid grounding to the story. Although I felt a bit cheated with a 20+ year jump from her a 20 year old suddenly to 42! Then all the way to her early 80’s. All the twists and turns were intriguing and unexpected like a good story should be.
A great deal of praise has to go to the author Ms Gilbert, This must have entailed a huge amount of research. It didn’t go unnoticed all the minutiae and detail. Very well done!

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Lovely book

A beautiful book with a storyline you would not expect. It was refreshing and insightful.

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Beautifully written

Narration and storytelling are brilliant and loved the character of Alma Whittaker from beginning to end !

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Captivating

Such a stunning listen! A long audiobook that was over far too soon I miss it already!!

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  • Overall
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So long the Main Points are Lost

The book starts off at a good pace, flowing beautifully and well written. However, and yes, there is a, however, like a castle made of sand it crumbles quickly. In fact I am surprised how few people have mentioned plot flaws, character flaws and in an attempt to emulate a nineteenth-century novel, the plot cannot sustain this length of story.

Maybe if it had been about a man examining his sexuality it might have received more balanced reviews rather than the hackneyed views of women that are really tired and dated.

Would I recommend the book.? No, and I say this with full respect for the research and effort put into creating this story and with respect for Ms. Gilbert's evident writing talent.

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