The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert is an impressive story of "desire, adventure, and a thirst for knowledge." (cover blurb). The book covers the late 1700s and into the 1800s following the Whittaker family. Henry Whittaker, a poor English boy, makes his fortune in South America and turns his vast botanical knowledge and connections into a broad business based in Philadelphia. His daughter, Alma, born into a now wealthy household, is brilliant but not beautiful. Her research takes "her into the central mysteries of evolution. But she falls for a man who draws her in the opposite direction - the realm of spiritual, divine, and magical. "
From London, Peru, Philadelphia, Tahiti, and Amsterdam - "The Signature of All Things" is a sweeping panorama of life. Its unforgettable characters - missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, geniuses, and the mad - all tell a tale of life's ups and downs. New ideas, new discoveries are exciting. Then there's heartache and heartbreak - nothing new there. Elizabeth Gilbert's rich writing kept me mesmerized. This is a dense read, but fantastic in its details, emotions, and plot lines.
p. 447 Alma writes "Anything less than a fight for endurance is cowardly. Anything less than a fight for endurance is a refusal of the great covenant of life."
"The Signature of All Things" will stick with you - the characters, nature, and you'll find yourself looking at moss growing on a tree in a whole new light.
Joanne Faries, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. She considers herself fortunate to be able to pursue a writing career after eons in the business world. Joanne enjoys reading and movies, and is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba.