With this novel about a young, nineteenth-century Philadelphia woman who becomes a world-renowned botanist, Gilbert shows herself to be a writer at the height of her powers.
- O, The Oprah Magazine, "Our Favorite Reads of the Year"
The most ambitious and purely imaginative work in Gilbert's twenty-year career.
- The Wall Street Journal
Like Victor Hugo or Emile Zola, Gilbert captures something important about the wider world in The Signature of All Things: a pivotal moment in history when progress defined us in concrete ways.
- The Washington Post
A masterly tale of overflowing sensual and scientific enthusiasms in the nineteenth century.
- Time, "Top Ten Fiction Books of the Year"
"Raucously ingenious... a novel of brave and lovely ideas... I found unshackled joy on every page.
- The Chicago Tribune
"Alma's extraordinary life unspools like a Jane Austen novel... Here Gilbert claims her rightful spot as one of the twenty-first century's best American writers.
A rip-roaring tale... unlike anything Gilbert has ever written... Its prose has the elegant sheen of a nineteenth-century epic, but its concerns... are essentially modern.
- The New York Times Magazine
"Gilbert writes so wonderfully it's impossible not to swoon... Alma's drive for personal epiphany feels absolutely contemporary.
- The Boston Globe
"A beautifully written, grandly expansive historical novel... Gilbert's writing is so smart and richly drawn that it does what all the best books do: it sweeps you up.
- Entertainment Weekly
"Dazzling... a big-hearted, sweeping, unforgettable novel... If you don't think science or historical fiction can be bright, funny, and engaging, this novel will quickly prove you wrong.
- The Miami Herald
“Gilbert’s…first work of fiction in thirteen years…has the elegant sheen of a nineteenth-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…A rousing homage to the literary heroes she grew up reading.”
- New York Times
“Real events provide ample substrate for a novel that entwines the historic and the imagined so subtly as to read like good nonfiction for most of its first half. It crosses over to page turner after the introduction of the author’s most beguiling invention, the deliciously named Ambrose Pike…The book’s locales are captured in glittering portraits…The prose is modern and accessible, leaning on plot rather than language to draw readers in. Gilbert has established herself as a straight-up storyteller who dares us into adventures of worldly discovery, and this novel stands as a winning next act. The Signature of All Things is a bracing homage to the many natures of genius and the inevitable progress of ideas in a world that reveals its best truths to the uncommonly patient minds.”
- New York Times Book Review
has mulled, from the confines of her desk, the correlations of nature, the
principle that connects a grain of sand to a galaxy, to create a character who does
the same—who makes the study of existence her life’s purpose. And in doing so,
she has written the novel of a lifetime.”
- O, The Oprah Magazine
read…Gilbert has returned to fiction with a boisterous historical novel about a
nineteenth-century botanist named Alma Whittaker…Alma’s fabulous brain is a hot
pot of scientific knowledge, lonely feminist turmoil, and erotic longing, all
of which makes her an irresistible character to accompany through history and around
Gilbert has turned out the most ambitious and purely imaginative work in her twenty-year career: a deeply researched and vividly rendered historical novel about
a nineteenth-century female botanist.”
- Wall Street Journal
“The Signature of All Things is that rare literary achievement: a big
panoramic novel about life and love that captures the idiom and tenor of its
- Washington Post
ingenious…Not just a historical novel that spans two centuries and many
geographies…I found unshackled joy on every page…A novel of brave and lovely
- Chicago Tribune
“[A] sweeping tale of one family’s journey from rags to riches…With such a massive narrative task at hand, narrator Stevenson never ceases to impress…Her English accent and sensitive but firm reading perfectly matches the author’s prose.”
- Publishers Weekly (starred audio review)
“After thirteen years as a memoirist, Elizabeth Gilbert has returned to fiction, and clearly she’s reveling in all its pleasures and possibilities…there is much pleasure in this unhurried, sympathetic, intelligent novel by an author confident in her material and her form.”
- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Beautifully read…Highly recommended.”
- Library Journal (starred audio review)
“Juliet Stevenson narrates impeccably, providing superb, authentic
accents…Powerful storytelling combined with a compelling voice create a
spellbinding listening experience.”
- Booklist (starred audio review)
“Gilbert, in supreme command of her material, effortlessly invokes the questing spirit of the nineteenth century, when amateur explorers, naturalists, and enthusiasts were making major contributions to progress. Beautifully written and imbued with a reverence for science and for learning, this is a must-read.”
- Booklist (starred review)
“Gilbert’s descriptions of Henry’s childhood, expeditions and life at the luxurious White Acre estate are superb. The dense, descriptive writing seems lifted from pages written two centuries past, yet it’s laced with spare ironical touches and elegant phrasing…Characters leap into life, visible and vibrant…Multiple narrative threads weave seamlessly into a saga reminiscent of T. C. Boyle’s Water Music…A brilliant exercise of intellect and imagination.”
- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“An incandescent and riveting character study, The Signature of All Things is a century-spanning tale of discovery and unconventional love…Impeccable botanical research informs the story, yet is written in an easily digestible manner for the uninitiated…The novel’s exploration of women’s roles in nineteenth-century academia makes it something of a parable for modern gender imbalances.”
- RT Book Reviews (4½ stars)