Book-a-Day Challenge – Day 18

Elizabeth Gilbert’s „The Signature of all Things“ is a novel about the longing for completion and self-fulfillment of a woman who is intelligent, scientific minded and struggles with her longings and aspirations that are hard to fulfill for a woman in the 19th century.

Alma Whitaker is a child of the Enlightenment and something of a fictitious female Charles Darwin. She arrives at Darwin’s evolutionary theory on the survival of the fittest before Darwin publishes his book purely based on personal experiences. But self-doubt on her theories and a the nagging feeling that humans might not as easily be categorised into theories as plants and animals stop her from publishing.

“Take me someplace where we can be silent together.”

Alma is a complex and fascinating character who sort of personifies an area and the age of upheaval. Gilbert writes and also structures her novel a lot like a the classics of the 19th century. The book is impeccably researched and often very funny with some (not so 19th century) explicit sexual content.

Alma Whitaker, even though she is a classic Daddy’s Girl,  is one of the most memorable and relatable heroines I’ve come across of . The storytelling it wonderful and it is hard to put the book aside. It was a quick read even though the book is quite the door stopper. I loved who much I learned about plants, moss, medical plants and botany in general.

Gilbert is a great writer who’s characters are as lively as the world that they live in. The writing is poetic and we follow Alma on her odyssey of the natural world and beyond, the wonder of life shows itself in all its beauty.

This is the perfect gift for the aspiring botanist or anybody who is interested in the history of science and loves a good novel to get lost in.

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