Book review (& Giveaway): The Signature of All Things


The Signature of All Things from Elizabeth Gilbert….I loved it, I hated it. I threw it down several times. Always picked it back up again. It didn’t keep me awake at night, eager to trundle on with it, but it whispered to me to pick it  back up during the day.

It’s entertaining, has some wonderful characters (who wouldn’t want to sit at Alma’s Father’s table?!), is beautifully written in parts…but it’s about 250 pages too long. I found myself being really frustrated reading about all the dull bits of Alma’s life (Gilbert’s attempt at some Victorian titillation – ’50 shades of Grey’ marketing moments? – as Alma ducks in to her secret library chamber were, actually, just really boring and, on the whole, really unnecessary….Alma’s as asexual as the mosses she studies and those bits of the book just weren’t fun to read…..just as that part of the book wasn’t fun to read, in any way shape or form).

[I realise it’s weird discussing a spoiler I obviously can’t reveal, but I’m so annoyed about it, I will continue….The fact that she feels compelled to do that to Tomorrow Morning kind of grated with me; Alma is, if nothing else, a pioneer of feminism, a strong-willed woman. That Gilbert made the pinnacle of her experiences up until that point in her life a pretty debasing act was really disappointing for me, personally. I held Alma in higher esteem and she disappointed me].

So, anyway….once you’re past the difficult middle sections of the book, past where Gilbert takes what feels like a million pages to establish Alma’s character, the book opens out to something quite fine.

loved the section where Alma meets Alfred Russell Wallace (he’s a hero of mine; the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection) and Gilbert’s description of the meeting of the two of them is pretty much how I’ve always imagined a meeting with him would go (yes, I have – many times – imagined meeting and conversing with him; he’s a source of fascination for me! Gilbert herself admits to falling a little in love with him during her research!).

I also loved the overall message of the book: don’t live in the shadow of missed opportunities. Many of the characters seem to live their lives in waiting…waiting for something to happen, waiting for each other to change, waiting for circumstances to change….waiting, waiting, waiting….and when Alma decides to move, to make something happen, to take risks, that’s when she finds her own brand of confidence and, through this, contentment.

It’s a book that’ll frustrate you as much as, or probably more than, it charms you, but sometimes frustration is good in a book, especially when the bits that make you want to throw the book down in frustration are balanced by the beauty of some of the passages.

Feel like reading it?

I’m giving my copy away!

Leave a comment….we’ll hand-draw a winner next Saturday (21st March) and I’ll send the book out to you when I can get to the Post Office…..please be aware that post is often slow from where I am….


15 thoughts on “Book review (& Giveaway): The Signature of All Things

  1. Now you have me intrigued Helen. I’ve only read Eat, Pray, Love by her & I liked that book. This sounds like quite a departure from that – as it would be not being her personal story.

    Thanks for sharing your take on it. Hope you’re having a blessed weekend. XO


  2. Isabel says:

    Hi there I Will Bloom. I am a sort of ‘reluctant’ reader of Elizabeth Gilbert. I don’t want to like her books, maybe because of how popular they are, but I have to admit that I DID enjoy Eat Pray Love and then I REALLY enjoyed Committed (have you read that?). So I would like to read The Signature of All Things, even if it is frustrating. Pick me pick me (will you post to China?)! x Isabel


    • iwillbloom says:

      Hi Isabel….I’m also a reluctant reader of Gilbert’s too…..(haven’t actually read E,P,L – for the same reasons you mention….but I saw one of her TED talks which I loved and couldn’t resist the Alfred Russell Wallace link in ‘Signature’). Yes, I’ll post to China (can’t guarantee how long it would take to arrive, however, if my littles pick your name out!)….Helen


  3. Gabriele says:

    I share your views on The Signature of all Things. I don’t need a copy. Do you want mine? Oops, mine is on my kindle. I can’t share, sorry.


  4. Barbara says:

    Thanks for your review of The Signature of all Things; I didn’t read Eat Pray Love but DID see the movie that was made. Sometimes, I prefer reading the books to the movies that are made!! I would love to read this book by Elizabeth Gilbert…as I LOVE reading and always happy to read a “new” author!!

    Thanks for sharing YOUR copy for someone!


    • iwillbloom says:

      Hi Barbara, I’ve only seen the E,P,L film too….(not read the book)…..[and I usually love books better than films – something about the power of one’s own imagination!]…..will include you in the draw….!!!!


  5. Lizelle says:

    Who can resist a Gilbert book!? 😀


  6. Angel Jem says:

    I haven’t read Eat Pray Love or watched the film, or read this book, and might never have bothered, apart from…. how bad can the middle bit be? Yes, please, put my name in your little hat. I’ll give it a go.


  7. glasspoolk says:

    Interesting…I will have to put this book on my list. I did read eat pray love and loved it but did NOT enjoy the movie at all….
    Great blog by the way! Love your layout. Clean and simple.


  8. Julie Kirk says:

    Just thought I’d let you know that I’ve just finished reading this this morning [not tomorrow morning … ]. I really enjoyed it even though yes, I agree, it was a little long and sometimes I didn’t know where it was going. [And goodness did I wish Ambrose hadn’t been quite so …. whatever it was he was]. It was many ideas/scenes/books rolled into one – which in itself must be a gigantic feat – so I admire it hugely, even if I’m not in love with it. And I do like a good long story with lots of new characters to live alongside for the duration. Thanks for the recommendation. 🙂


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