Rarely has a book penetrated me so…dare I say, never…as Elizabeth Gilbert‘s exquisite novel – The Signature of All Things. Over the past two days, my time, my thoughts, my work, my life, my everything (other than my children, and their homework!) was completely and utterly overtaken by this engrossing and brilliant work of art…it overtakes me still, though I reluctantly closed the last pages of this book in the late hours of this morning. To say how or why this novel delved so deeply into my heart, my spirit, my subconscious, into my very cells perhaps, is a task I will never rise to the occasion of fully explaining to any other soul, other than my own. For this novel, for me, was much more than a “book” – it was deeply and emphatically, alive! – so much so, that I could “hear” it, “feel” it, be ever expanded by it and “ignited” by it – and crazy as it sounds, I truly mourned when its life came to an end.
From the first hours of my reading, and every moment then since – I often found myself in tears…from the Wonder, the Beauty, the Knowledge and Curiosity that is presented in this book, primarily through Alma, the amazing woman of science that charges into life, full steam ahead with her engrossing Commitment to Understanding EVERYTHING, head on, straight on, looking life in the eye, even when it was difficult…painful, even.
Alma, is wondrous; she is the kind of character that I wish to know in my own life. Steadfast, strong, brilliantly smart and learned, curious, exceptional in mind, bold, perhaps a tad (or more) selfish, genuine, and, even in the face of fear – ever unafraid. She is also blunt, and wonderfully direct…perhaps owing to her endearing Dutch nursemaid, Hanneke – or perhaps in a way that the wealthy and educated were always permitted to be. She had a mind, and she never suffered to use it…nay, perhaps this is too much, for she was a woman in the 1800’s after all, and as such, she did choose to publish her scientific findings not under her full name, but by initial only…so as to stand the chance of being taken seriously in a man’s world.
If you are curious about the world, if you enjoy digging into the minutia of life, peeling back the layers to see what resides there – if the wonders of the heart stir you, and the thrill of exploration sends your head spinning… you must read The Signature of All Things. An entire universe resides in the pages of this novel, in the lives of its characters…and for this, I praise with an exploding heart, the wonders that Elizabeth Gilbert birthed to us all. If ever in my lifetime I am able to paint so delicately and fine a story and characters such as this in my own writing, I will die a happy woman, and one deeply fulfilled.