A glorious, sweeping novel of desire, ambition, and the thirst for knowledge, from the #1 New York Times bestselling 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 eighteenth and nineteenth 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 readers.
If you have ever seen the movie Coyote Ugly, you have seen the adaptation of the article written by American author, Elizabeth Gilbert, for GQ Magazine, which described her experiences working as a bartender on the Lower East Side of New York City. Gilbert held many jobs after earning her degree in Political Science from New York University. All of her labor jobs gave her inspiration for her fictional books and magazine articles.
Elizabeth Gilbert had almost immediate success with her writing, but the pinnacle of success for her was her book Eat, Pray, Love, which was written after a very upsetting divorce and she took off on a healing adventure throughout the world. After her first book, which was a collection of short stories, Pilgrim, she was praised as a " young writer of incandescent talent". Eat, Pray, Love was translated into thirty languages, selling over 12 million copies. In 2010, Julia Robert's starred in a film adaptation of the movie.
Gilbert's latest books are Committed, The Signature of All Things, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, and City of Girls, about the NYC theater world of the 1940's. She lives in NYC, rural New Jersey, and anywhere else her adventures take her.