Monday, June 23, 2014

With apologies to the author …

…Elizabeth Gilbert.

When her book “Eat, Pray, Love” came out and was quickly grabbed up by Hollywood and turned into a movie I was annoyed. It was so similar to one of my favorite books, “Female Nomad” by Rita Golden Gelman published in 2001 that it seemed unfair to me that her story had not been the one chosen for the film. Silly, I know, but that’s how I felt.

So, when I saw “The Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert at the library I figured it would just be another frothy tale that would annoy me further and I decided I would not read it. However I started to hear good reviews of the book and when a close friend took me to task for my intolerance and stupidity I gave in and was mightily surprised to find that I enjoyed her book more than any that I’ve read in a long time.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel is an extraordinary story that takes place in the 19th century. It follows the fortunes of Alma Whittaker, the daughter of an itinerant and self made man who claws his way to the top as a botanical explorer. Alma is self-willed and brilliant but she does not fit into the rigid female mold of that age. She does, however, come into her own within the world of plants and science and it’s fascinating to follow her journey as she spans the globe from Philadelphia to Tahiti and finally to Amsterdam.

Although “The Signature of All Things” is fiction it is replete with historical facts that must have taken extensive research to authenticate. Because of this I not only enjoyed her story but learned so much about the fascinating world of botany in the 19th century. I hope you will enjoy her story as much as I did.

8 Comments:

Blogger troutbirder said...

Interesting. And sounds very similar to the true life story of the woman the largest and best untouched native prairie (Hayden) was names after. She was the first woman to earn a PhD at Iowa State University at Ames. And wrote the definitive book survey of that State native plants.

3:37 AM  
Blogger NCmountainwoman said...

I really liked this book, although I did not like "Eat, Pray, Love" at all. Interesting story.

6:53 AM  
Blogger Arkansas Patti said...

Eat, Pray, Love did not appeal to me as a book or movie and I avoided both. This one does. Thanks for the good review.

8:07 AM  
OpenID schmidleysscribblins.com said...

I find it off-putting that she uses the title of Jacob Boehme's seventeenth century book,(probably largely as a lure concocted by editors who decide on book tiles.)

Boehme is mostly considered a joke among serious historians of the science of botany or gardening. However, his pseudo science continues to attract the naive.

As for the book, if you enjoy it fine. If you care to check into her 'historical facts' you may find her research is comparatively shallow. BTW you are the second blogger I have read today who is reading this book.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Sounds like it might be interesting. I wouldn't mind giving it a try.

7:28 PM  
Blogger possum said...

Oh, great, I am glad you enjoyed it. I think I mentioned reading it some months ago. I hated Eat Pray, Love... I misspelled it deliberately in my mind to Eat Prey, Love. But anyway, I did enjoy this NOVEL and didn't worry about its historical accuracy - it was a book to entertain, and it did. So glad you enjoyed it.
I know one thng it did, it made me take a closer look at the various mosses in my yard... not to look them up or study, but just out of curiosity, really look at them. I often use them in my scenery at the train station.

5:26 AM  
Blogger Syd said...

Another blogger wrote that it was good. My wife actually didn't mind Eat, Pray, Love--she listened to it on CD which may have made a difference.

5:39 AM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

I did not read Ms. Gilbert's previous book, but based on your recommendation I will check for this one the next time I go to our local library.

4:28 PM  

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