The Signature of All Things

  • by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Narrated by Juliet Stevenson
  • 21 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Longlisted - Baileys Women's Prize 2014
Elizabeth Gilbert's first novel in twelve years is an extraordinary story of botany, exploration and desire, spanning across much of the 19th century. The novel follows the fortunes of the brilliant Alma Whittaker (daughter of a bold and charismatic botanical explorer) as she comes into her own within the world of plants and science. As Alma's careful studies of moss take her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, the man she loves draws her in the opposite direction - into the realm of the spiritual, the divine and the magical.
Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose is a Utopian artist. But what unites this couple is a shared passion for knowing - a desperate need to understand the workings of this world, and the mechanism behind of all life.
The Signature of All Things is a big novel, about a big century. Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, this story novel soars across the globe - from London, to Peru, to Philadelphia, to Tahiti, to Amsterdam and beyond. It is written in the bold, questing spirit of that singular time.
Alma Whittaker is a witness to history, as well as maker of history herself. She stands on the cusp of the modern, with one foot still in the Enlightened Age, and she is certain to be loved by many across the world.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A superb listen, utterly absorbing.

Where does The Signature of All Things rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This ranks as one of the most enjoyable and moving listens I have thus far experienced.


What was one of the most memorable moments of The Signature of All Things?

The author has managed to create a truly believable moment of wonder and revelation around the unlikely subject of bryology (the study of mosses).


What does Juliet Stevenson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

A mellifluous and pitch perfect reading of the book- I could have listened to her voice for days. Unfortunately the 'voice in my head' whilst reading just doesn't sound that good!


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

In one way yes, but I also enjoyed going away to savour moments before returning to the story.


Any additional comments?

A rare book indeed - beautifully drawn characters which drive the story on and involve the emotions of the reader - at the same time addressing a period of our history in which science and the opening up of the world to discovery was at a particular peak.

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- Kerry

Gorgeous, rich, verdant.

The incredible detail of the writing and delicious voice of the narrator made listening to this book a sensual pleasure. I could really visualise the sea voyages to far-away lands and the up-close intricacies of the mosses, could imagine reverently turning the pages of orchid illustrations. It was fascinating too from a historical perspective - from the concept of 'polite' sciences (subjects acceptable for ladies to pursue) to the competitive and commercial drive for plant collection. It's a long story, following one central character's life with all its passions and frustrations, restrictions and liberties, but it's a rich story and one well worth investing in.
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- jo

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-10-2013
  • Publisher: Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd