We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
The Signature of All Things Audiobook

The Signature of All Things: A Novel

Regular Price:$42.00
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

A glorious, sweeping novel of desire, ambition, and the thirst for knowledge, from the number-one New York Times best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love and Committed

In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction, inserting her inimitable voice into an enthralling story of love, adventure, and discovery. Spanning much of the 18th and 19th centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker - a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia.

Born in 1800, Henry's brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father's money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. As Alma's research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exact opposite direction - into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose a utopian artist - but what unites this unlikely couple is a desperate need to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all life.

Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, The Signature of All Things soars across the globe - from London to Peru to Philadelphia to Tahiti to Amsterdam, and beyond. Along the way, the story is peopled with unforgettable characters: missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, geniuses, and the quite mad. But most memorable of all, it is the story of Alma Whittaker, who - born in the Age of Enlightenment, but living well into the Industrial Revolution - bears witness to that extraordinary moment in human history when all the old assumptions about science, 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 of listeners.

©2013 Elizabeth Gilbert (P)2013 Penguin Audio

What the Critics Say

  • 10 Best Audiobooks of 2013 (Salon)

"Juliet Stevenson's face would be instantly familiar to Anglophiles everywhere, especially those with a penchant for British TV (her films include "Truly Madly Deeply" and "Drowning by Numbers"), but she's also a first-class narrator…. Stevenson conveys the sense that the hand on the wheel is firm and certain and that the reader may lean back in perfect confidence that neither journey nor destination will disappoint." (Laura Miller, Salon)

“Gilbert's triumphant return to fiction is matched by Juliet Stevenson's lyrical reading. Both author and narrator capture the listener from the novel's opening words.” (AudioFile)

"[A] rip-roaring tale… Its prose has the elegant sheen of a 19th-century epic, but its concerns — the intersection of science and faith, the feminine struggle for fulfillment, the dubious rise of the pharmaceutical industry — are essentially modern." (The New York Times Magazine)

"The most ambitious and purely imaginative work in Gilbert’s 20-year career: a deeply researched and vividly rendered historical novel about a 19th century female botanist.” (The Wall Street Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (3131 )
5 star
 (1605)
4 star
 (955)
3 star
 (398)
2 star
 (115)
1 star
 (58)
Overall
4.2 (2859 )
5 star
 (1426)
4 star
 (823)
3 star
 (399)
2 star
 (140)
1 star
 (71)
Story
4.6 (2848 )
5 star
 (1989)
4 star
 (636)
3 star
 (166)
2 star
 (38)
1 star
 (19)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Phoebe 08-11-16
    Phoebe 08-11-16 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Modern Classic"

    Gilbert is clearly a fellow lover of classic literature. She has crafted her own masterpiece. Transporting and engrossing, the lush language creates a history thrumming with reality. Didn't want it to end!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Washington State 08-04-16
    Amazon Customer Washington State 08-04-16 Member Since 2014

    Being My Best

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "magnificently written"

    I would highly recommend this story. I loved the way Ms Gilbert weaves science and mystery together. Her characters are rich in complexity and utterly enchanting. I felt a loss at the end of the book as if I had lost several dear friends. I'm certain I will visit this story again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Flora Ways seattle, wa 07-30-16
    Flora Ways seattle, wa 07-30-16 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    48
    8
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful read!"

    This is one of the most amazing reads! Beautifly narated and totally enthralling. I had great difficulty putting it away and found myself impatiently looking forward to the next moment I had to hear more. I highly recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Audra 07-23-16
    Audra 07-23-16 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    17
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Truly enjoyed the story."

    Love the narrator. Confirmed so many ideas that I always knew. Probably listen to it again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin Richmond, VA, USA 07-18-16
    Robin Richmond, VA, USA 07-18-16 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    41
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    26
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Disappointing - it had potential"
    What did you like best about The Signature of All Things? What did you like least?

    The beginning of the book was good - had good potential


    What was most disappointing about Elizabeth Gilbert’s story?

    It should have ended much sooner. The middle and end of the book were a let down. I expected more.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    ???


    Was The Signature of All Things worth the listening time?

    No - Should have ended after 10 hours. I did like the reader very much...


    Any additional comments?

    I found Liz Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love to be a whiny book about a self absorbed, self centered divorced woman - ugh. Get real and quit complaining about your problems when there are people with "real" problems. Give me a break! This book started out much better and I was excited to see stronger characters. Unfortunately, it just went on too long. I found the last 1/2 to 1/3 of the book to be tedious and unfortunate. Worse, after plowing through the last half of the book I was not rewarded by my efforts with any sort of accomplishment or achievement by the main character. All in all, I was disappointed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leah Mack 07-17-16
    Leah Mack 07-17-16
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "fabulous!"

    I loved the narration and the story. I sometimes struggle to find books that are rich and deep but aren't full of disturbing violence, graphic depictions of terrible suffering, or upsetting endings. This novel had all the depth I desire but none of that darker stuff. I wish I could find more like it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    consuelo 07-16-16
    consuelo 07-16-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    27
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Promises much, doesn't deliver"
    What disappointed you about The Signature of All Things?

    The beginning of the book was wonderful, but the author lost her way halfway through, and as I neared the end I kept waiting for the big reveal, which didn't come. Again, the first half was truly a story, but the second half was a confused mess of philosophy, boring and unsatisfying.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Elizabeth Gilbert again?

    Probably not.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Initially excitement, then confusion and boredom.


    Any additional comments?

    Juliet Stevenson is one of my favorite actresses and readers and, as always, she did a beautiful job with this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heidi Sterling Heights, MI, United States 07-14-16
    Heidi Sterling Heights, MI, United States 07-14-16 Member Since 2016

    I love to listen and learn!

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    21
    6
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fantastic narrator"

    A very heavy story about the beauty and disappointments of life. Life of all forms, not just humans. About the trials and tribulations of life in general. Not predictable in thw least.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ogres3 PITTSBURGH, PA, United States 07-10-16
    ogres3 PITTSBURGH, PA, United States 07-10-16 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    200
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Tedious"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    If there had been a stronger plot; this had so much potential, but just becomes a relating of somewhat connected life events. It stays small, like Alma's obsession with moss.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Elizabeth Gilbert again?

    I might read one of her books, but this wasn't entertaining enough for the audio format.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MInorkey33 07-01-16
    MInorkey33 07-01-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Last quarter killed it"

    I liked the story, but then at about the three quarter mark the story just got unbelievable. In the end it was not one of my favorites. Great performance by Juliet Stevenson though.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.