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Summary

Bloomsbury presents The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, read by Juliet Stevenson.

Shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize.

Longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction.

A captivating story of botany, exploration and desire, by the multi-million best-selling author of Eat Pray Love.

Everything about life intrigues Alma Whittaker. Her passion for botany leads her far from home, from London to Peru to Tahiti, in pursuit of that rare specimen: knowledge. But as her careful studies draw her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she meets the man who she will come to love - whose perspective, radically different from her own, will transform the way she understands the world. 

Radiating with all the heart, soul and earthiness as its unforgettable heroine, The Signature of All Things is a captivating celebration of the workings of this world, and the mechanisms behind all life.

©2013 Elizabeth Gilbert (P)2013 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group US

Critic reviews

"Unlike anything else she has ever written.... Its prose has the elegant sheen of a 19th-century epic, but its concerns - the intersection of science and faith, the feminine struggle for fulfilment - are especially modern." (Steve Almond, International Herald Tribune)

"The story of Alma Whittaker’s journey of discovery has irresistible momentum." (Helen Dunmore, The Times)

"A botanical odyssey through the 19th century, global in ambition, revelling in the period's insatiable curiosity about the world...a tall tale, told with verve and wit." (Guardian)

What listeners say about The Signature of All Things

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Lovely intricate tale

I loved it and In the end wished there were more chapters. It was slightly melancholy and went along with a smooth momentum that I love in a book. If I had one tiny criticism it would be how detailed it was. Not sure erotic is the right word, raunchy. Not sure. I’m no prude but even I was having an ‘oh myyyy’ moment.
My only experience of Elizabeth Gilbert is the movie eat prey love to which I will probably buy the book to see if it was given justice. The story telling was brilliant and the narration by Juliet was perfect. A clear articulate voice that managed each character and accent perfectly. Highly, strongly, fervently recommend you listen to this book. 👍

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A learning journey

I found so many threads of interest woven into this story. The island life, medicinal plants, the female traveller. Depth, science, humanity, shame, loneliness, bliss. A deliciously long read that has reconfigured my jigsaw puzzle of colonialism.

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A fascinating and beautiful story

If you love wide ranging, adventurous and yet measured stories about a woman who has a most extraordinary life in a past era, you’ll enjoy this immensely. Juliet Stephenson does a magnificent job reading it! Author Elizabeth Gilbert brings history and science to a tale of a woman who was an oddity in her time and yet would have thrived in our modern times - able to pursue a life of discovery and intellect and yet always longing for love from people who could not give it to her in the way she hoped.

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excellent story

brilliant story woven together with lots of surprises and rich tapestry of Botany and history intereoven

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the title IS the book

the book embraces everything. I will keep looking for the solution to the Prudence problem. excellent reader as well. Thank you!

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  • Angi
  • 19-05-22

Absorbing listen

The Narrator was the icing on the cake. A long and mostly intelligent and intesting story about a woman who was not Instantly likeable, other characters and settings enhanced the life srory of this unusual 18th century woman of Science .