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 (3116 )
5 star
 (1597)
4 star
 (953)
3 star
 (395)
2 star
 (113)
1 star
 (58)
Overall
4.2 (2845 )
5 star
 (1418)
4 star
 (822)
3 star
 (396)
2 star
 (139)
1 star
 (70)
Story
4.6 (2834 )
5 star
 (1979)
4 star
 (633)
3 star
 (165)
2 star
 (38)
1 star
 (19)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Olivia 06-30-16
    Olivia 06-30-16 Member Since 2015

    Rabid reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    57
    14
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Long, meandering, confusing, ambitious"

    I only finished this book out of a sense of duty. It is a very long and broad story that attempts to accomplish a lot. It has some beautiful ideas.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kath Danvers, MA, United States 06-30-16
    Kath Danvers, MA, United States 06-30-16 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    77
    18
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I enjoyed it right from the start"
    If you could sum up The Signature of All Things in three words, what would they be?

    One woman's life


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Alma. A 20th century woman living in the 19th century. Educated but not worldly. It is a shame that she really never left her home until she was in her 50s. She really didn't start to live until then.


    What about Juliet Stevenson’s performance did you like?

    Juliet Stevenson's voice is just so easy to listen to; one of my favorite readers.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dc1313 06-27-16
    Dc1313 06-27-16 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    21
    15
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not my Thing"

    I really dislike the main character of this book. she is extremely selfish does not have many redeeming qualities. I honestly like the introduction more. her actions are irrefutably selfish. It's just not my thing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert J. 06-23-16
    Robert J. 06-23-16 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    "beautiful"

    I've listened to this audio book about a dozen times.....it gets better and better. I'm certain I will listen another dozen times.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ty 06-20-16
    ty 06-20-16
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Such a great writer"

    This book seems like it should have taken decades to write. The prose are so beautiful and area appropriate. This covers science, religion, history, and many more topics all in the story of one amazing lady. We learn of the generations before her and her trips around the globe. Liz knocks this one out of the park !

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eliza 06-19-16
    Eliza 06-19-16 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "amazing piece of literature!"

    This is an amazing book, by an author who clearly takes the historical, world-creating work seriously. This was a transporting, joy to read!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebeca 06-13-16
    Rebeca 06-13-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    26
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    119
    21
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "a very very long narration- like real life"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No. I call it narration because the part that annoyed me was there was no story! Very long for what seemed no purpose at all. There are very interesting bits and characters and you wonder : What's going to happen? How will this affect the story? In no way, as it turns out. Very much like real life, when things just happen and have no influence, and keep happening, and mean nothing, and you are bored


    Would you ever listen to anything by Elizabeth Gilbert again?

    ... I doubt it


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Can't think of one!


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    no!


    Any additional comments?

    I wouldn't recommend, but a dear friend recommended it to me, which only shows you it a matter of taste.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M.W. 06-13-16
    M.W. 06-13-16 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    243
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    388
    205
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    15
    19
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent Storytelling"
    Where does The Signature of All Things rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Elizabeth Gilbert is a skilled writer and storyteller. I expected a good book and wasn't disappointed.


    Any additional comments?

    I have listened to several of this author's books and have never been disappointed. This book isn't knock your socks off wow, which I tend to reserve for a really well plotted thriller, but it's a good story by a gifted writer.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cindy Tortorici Portland, OR 06-05-16
    Cindy Tortorici Portland, OR 06-05-16 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A must read/listen"

    the prose and narrator made this a total delight! if you like stories that transcend several generations and strong women, you'll love this book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda Wright 06-03-16 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Loved it!"

    beautifully and entertaining . I fell in love with all the characters. Thank you Elizabeth.

    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.