Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Signature of All Things

I have just completed reading the most wonderful book by a most wonderful author. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert is truly an amazing story.

It is evident on every page that the author painstakingly researched and toiled for many years to write this sweeping, historically sound, epic novel of desire, ambition, and utmost need for knowledge. This novel is definitely in the category of literary fiction that ranks high on the list with such works as Bronte's Wuthering Heights and Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Who would have thought that the subject matter of mosses would be so delightfully interesting and spectacularly entertaining? Apparently, quite a lot of readers (including me) do and are fully embracing this new novel from this amazing author.

Gilbert successfully makes the lead character, Alma Whittaker, moss-loving woman of the 19th century into someone the reader cannot help but like - I would even go as far as to say "adore".

From Alma's birth through the years right before her death, the author takes you on a world-wind tour of the Whittaker estate (White Acre) in Philadelphia across the oceans to Tahiti and finally to Holland - all the while narrating the sights, sounds, smells of animals and people that Alma encounters along the way.

Although the beginning of the book is very informative and provides much in regard to Alma's lineage and upbringing, the story becomes more interesting and fully unfolds at the midpoint of the book. Up to this point, Alma has dedicated her life to moss study and scientific reasoning, but then she encounters Ambrose Pike. Smitten with this new beau, one thing leads to another and the two wed shortly thereafter.

The events that take place after their exchange of vows are at times (psychologically) hard to read, but these events lead the story into the next phases of Alma's life. The first one being a phase of removing familiar surroundings one is accustomed to; then on to removing the "baggage" of life and finally to the last phase - one of discovery.

I whole-heartedly recommend this novel to anyone who appreciates literary, historical fiction. You will not be disappointed.

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