Magnificent and marvellous! A sprawling epic that has been so longed for in my reading!
I was growing desperate for a knock me off my chair kind of book and The Signature of All Things delivered! This book was given to me a few years ago by my lovely bookish friend, but it sat on my shelf for far too long afterwards. However, I did recently pull it out to place closer to the top of the pile since this was going to be a perfect fit for the Reading Women Challenge 2019 – featuring a woman in science.
After complaining about my desperation to read a really great and epic book, both Hoarder Elizabeth and Jennifer, the one who actually gifted me with this wonderful book, simultaneously suggested The Signature of All Things. Literally – it was simultaneous! They couldn’t have been more bang on about how much I would enjoy this book! The messages of love for it were also pouring in from the Bookish Twittersphere. It certainly has so much to offer! An excellent female protaganist (although she does spend a little too much time in a certain binding closet. ;-) ), lush and gorgeous writing, an epic storyline – we first read about Alma’s father and his life and adventures from England to America. Then follow Alma from childhood to her old age. So much happens to Alma, as you can imagine, and there were many times where I shed tears for her sorrows and heartbreaks. Every supporting character was outstanding – all could have won best supporting actor awards. There was her dedicated and devoted Hanneke de Groote, her only friend Retta, her adopted sister Prudence, the men that she loved, but did not love her back….everyone and everything about this book was completely wonderful!
The epic nature and science that is written about is also a pure delight. The extensive research into the world of botany and the flawless immersion of it into Alma’s story was impressive. There is also much debate between science vs faith inside…this is grand historical fiction for sure. The ending is richly satisfying and I was deeply saddened to no longer be utterly absorbed in Alma’s world. I couldn’t be anymore enthusiastic about this book if I tried. I’m sure I’m not even giving you enough detail about all the greatness inside this book.
This book could also be one dedicated to Beatrix Potter, and the more you read about Potter, the more you see where the inspiration for this magnificent novel must have come from for Gilbert as the comparisons between Beatrix and Alma are considerable:
Both Alma and Beatrix were not considered to be beautiful women; Their upper-class childhoods that were characterized by significant loneliness; Beatrix’s love of animals and nature; Alma’s of botany and nature, and how both transformed those passions into their professional lives; Educations that were not the norm, etc. etc.
It’s a lovely tribute for certain, if this is what it was meant to be. In short, I loved it. I loved it all. Now the pressure is on for Elizabeth and Jennifer to find me more knock me off my chair books to read! ;-) ha!