A glorious, sweepingnovel of desire, ambition, and the thirst for knowledge, from the # 1 NewYork Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love and Committed
In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbertreturns to fiction, inserting her inimitable voice into an enthralling story oflove, adventure, and discovery. Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenthcenturies, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker familyas led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker—a poor-born Englishman who makes agreat fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming therichest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry's brilliant daughter, Alma(who inherits both her father's money and his mind), ultimately becomes abotanist of considerable gifts herself. As Alma's research takes her deeperinto the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named AmbrosePike, who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exactopposite direction—into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and themagical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist, Ambrose a utopian artist—but whatunites this unlikely couple is a desperate need to understand the workings ofthis world and the mechanisms behind all life.
Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, TheSignature of All Things soars across the globe—from London to Peru to Philadelphiato Tahiti to Amsterdam and beyond. Along the way, the story is peopled withunforgettable characters: missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers,astronomers, sea captains, geniuses, and the quite mad. But most memorable ofall, it is the story of Alma Whittaker, who—born in the Enlightenmentbut living well into the Industrial Revolution—bears witness to thatextraordinary moment in human history when all the old assumptions aboutscience, religion, commerce, and class were exploding into dangerous new ideas.Written in the bold, questing spirit of that singular time, Gilbert's wise,deep, and spellbinding tale is certain to capture the hearts and minds ofreaders.