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The Signature of All Things: A Novel

Unabridged Audio Book

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Juliet Stevenson

21 Hours 45 Minutes

Penguin Audio

October 2013

Audio Book Summary

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.

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    This is my "go-to" book for those times when I am asked if I can recommend something good! It is an absolutely monumental work and Juliet Stevenson as narrator is unsurpassed.

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  • Jasmine M.

    My absolute favorite book of all time. I have listened to this more times than I can count. The story does not ever go in the direction you expect it to....Its full of unique insight, philosophy, adventure. It's clever and sharp witted, full of humor and drama.... Narration is flawless!

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  • Shar V.

    i absolutely loved this book and the narrator was amazingly entertaining to listen to.

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  • Maureen T.

    Amazing narration! Enjoyed hearing the characters come alive through the narrator’s interpretation. The story is lovely and clever. I had no idea I would find Alma so relatable and likeable.

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  • Janet G.

    an epic story that I never wanted to end! beautifully written...

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  • Brandi T

    Elizabeth Gilbert is absolutely brilliant! What an amazing book this is. It is long but, most definitely worth reading/listening.

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  • Lia Nielsen

    A beautifully written story with a wonderful and unique heroine. The narrator did an excellent job.

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  • Niloufar Mobini

    I am speechless .... How on earth did Elizabeth Gilbert find the one non-artsy subject that I am so vastly passionate about, evolution, and write a whole novel about it ...??!??!? She already had my spiritual world rocked, and now this ?! I still can't believe it !

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  • Cynthia Horta

    Very thought provoking... A good book for women of all generations.

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  • Michelle Cordle

    I enjoyed the characters, the twist and turns and the poetic description of time. Who knew moss could be so interesting.

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