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The Signature of All Things Audiobook

The Signature of All Things: A Novel

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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

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Performance
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  •  
    Keoma D. McCaffrey 06-17-17 Member Since 2016
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    Story
    "Absolute story telling at its finest"

    Original snd spellbinding. I followed every wonderful train of thought eager for where it would lead- just wonderous. Elizabeth Gilbert has not only a gift for creative story telling but a nose for fantastic research ! Pure unadulterated enjoyment!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Natasha Smith New Mexico 06-03-17
    Natasha Smith New Mexico 06-03-17 Member Since 2011

    Natasha

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    18
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    "Worthy of a Pulitzer!"

    Magnificent on story, scholarship, and delivery. I am in awe of the author and the performance honors the story in every way

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy Anthony 05-26-17
    Amy Anthony 05-26-17 Member Since 2015
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    "mediocre"

    narrator good but story was just too ram ling and non climactic. too much of a commitment with no real ending

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol J Tistan 05-20-17 Member Since 2016
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    6
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    "The Signature of All Things"

    This is a provocative, thoughtful and comforting book reflecting a woman's life and growth thru her lifetime. The story touched me as it reflects and puts into words the changes and growth in my own life. I admire the audible rendition as it gave life to a life. Thank you Elizabeth for the courage to write this book and to Juliet for the wonderful reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karla Cienfuegos 05-09-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Perfect for a book nerd!"

    This book is like no other. It's beautifully written with an amazing storyline. If you're looking for a book to really take you on an incredible journey of heartache, inspiration and intellect, this book is for you. Plus the narrator Juliet Stevenson makes this book magical.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Karson 04-25-17 Member Since 2016
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    4
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    "Extraordinary reading"

    This is the best narrated book I've listened to on audible. The reader and reading is extraordinary. Very meaningful story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna H. West Killeen, TX 04-17-17
    Donna H. West Killeen, TX 04-17-17 Member Since 2016

    Donna

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    "Great historical fiction !"

    Kept my interest through the entire book. Very interesting start of the book with telling the details of Alma's father's early life and how he earned his fortune...the writer then goes on to tell the story of Alma's entire life, from little girl to young teen and then far beyond...all the while with interesting historical content....loved it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anna 04-09-17
    Anna 04-09-17
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    "Magical!"

    This book was brilliantly written, beautifully read, filled with unforgettable characters and landscapes! I loved every word!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 04-02-17 Member Since 2014
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    5
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    "She is an amazing writer!"

    The plot is not something I would typically be drawn too. But Elizabeth Gilbert is such an amazing author that I got pulled into this quite quickly and thoroughly. Julie Stevenson is a perfect narrator for this story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. Davis 03-31-17
    P. Davis 03-31-17

    Moderation in all things

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    "awesome!"

    the 2nd listen! I got so much more out of it! that I missed the first time!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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