I was introduced to Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing with Eat, Pray, Love, a book that took me around the world, taught me something each step of the way, and helped me to re-evaluate my own life. With The Signature of All Things, I was taken around the world but in a different time period, following a different journey. This novel follows the journey of a very wealthy, stubborn, and hardworking man, and trickles into his daughter’s journey. As a lover of historical fiction I found Elizabeth’s depiction of this time period truly fascinating. You can tell that an intense amount of research went into forming this novel and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about various plants and how they were used/what they were used for. The Signature of All Things is such a detailed account that it didn’t leave much left for the imagination, which is something that would normally trouble me, but I found it worked well for this novel. Every character is alive, you can see them, hear them, and fall in love with them. Alma is a wonderful character and one that I won’t soon forget. I love how her curiosity never ceases and how she is constantly trying to answer why or how.
“She wanted to understand the world, and she made a habit out of chasing down information to its last hiding place, as though the fate of nations were at stake in every instance…and when given the answer–demanded to know why this was certain.” (51)
I must admit that the length of this novel and the detailed descriptions had my attention waver a few times. It’s the sort of story that’s easy to get sucked into but you have to be in the mood for it. You have to be sitting up and paying attention to what’s going on in order to get the most out of it. It’s not Eat, Pray, Love (if that’s what you’re looking for) but it is just as relatable if you give it a chance. I would recommend this novel to any historical fiction lover on your list – there’s only three days until Christmas but that’s plenty of time for a last-minute gift!
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