Judging all of Elizabeth Gilbert‘s books based on her Eat, Pray, Love was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made – especially since I haven’t even read Eat, Pray, Love. After reading The Signature of All Things, one thing is for sure, Gilbert can write. The Signature of All Things is a dense and multi-layered piece of literary fiction that puts the reputation of Eat, Pray, Love to shame.
I was convinced to read The Signature of All Things after so many people I respect in the blogging community told me it was worthwhile. It tells the long story of a woman botanist in the early 19th century. That was the hook that got me and sustained me through the book.
I had conceived of it as more of a travel story, and while she does venture forth to the South Pacific, for at least two thirds of the book she remains at her sprawling family home.
Who would like this book? The Signature of All Things is for historical fiction fans. The protagonist is an unconventional character in a time when women were meant to be highly conventional. Seeing how she negotiates her status is one of the major themes of the book. There is also a lot of engagement with theories of biology and evolution of the time. And of course, Darwin makes an appearance. So those interested in intellectual history will also like this book.