“The Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert

Posted: September 13, 2018 in Musings
Tags: , , , , , ,

“The Signature of All Things” took me by surprise. It is another book that I started reading trying to understand what readers like in contemporary books.

Soon after I started reading it, I completely forgot my initial intention. I was drawn into it and forgot about the rest of the world.
The book is a family saga of two generations only. It’s written in the language of the 19th century, the time of the events. A young Dutch poor adolescent boy, Henry, becomes a rich man settling in Pennsylvania. He marries a competent Dutch woman, and they have two daughters (one of them adopted). The story of the second generation focuses on Alma, the biological daughter, who has an extraordinary intellect, a scientific mind and a desire to be loved and love.

What’s striking about most of the book is the sheer amount of research Gilbert has carried out and the brilliant way she embedded that within the plot and the characters of the novel. The ability to sustain the language style of that era is also impressive. Some readers might be disappointed by the part of the story taking place in Tahiti, even though it offers an image of that population at that time that if right, it is essential to know and sense.

At some stage, I thought that I would struggle towards the end of this long novel, given its sheer size, as it has happened frequently. Alas, no, the last part of the story brings again to light the amount of research Gilbert carried out on other areas, among others the emergence of the theory of evolution. Gilbert brings daringly into the narrative the contradictions and the gaps within the evolution theory. These are essential philosophical gaps to consider, frequently forgotten or unknown. With that, the novel captivated me until the very last page.

Who would have thought after “Eat, Pray, Love,” such a different, rich book? Who?t

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s