7 Jan 2016



BACK COVER BLURB: From the moment Alma Whittaker steps into the world, everything about life intrigues her. Instilled with an unquenchable sense of wonder by her father, a botanical explorer and the richest man in the New World, Alma is raised in a house of luxury and curiosity. It is not long before she becomes a gifted botanist in her own right. But as she flourishes and her research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, the man she comes to love draws her in the opposite direction - into the realm of the spiritual, the divine and the magical.

The Signature of All Things soars across the globe of the nineteenth century, from London and Peru, to Philadelphia, Tahiti and beyond. Peopled with extraordinary characters along the way, most of all it has an unforgettable heroine in Alma Whittaker.

FIRST SENTENCE {Prologue}: Alma Whittaker, born with thecentury, slid into the world on the fifth of January, 1800.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 107}: Alma opened the book again, and read for another hour, overcome by stimulus, doubt and havoc. Her conscience tugged at her skirt hems, pleading with her to stop, but she could not make herself stop. What she discovered in these pages made her feel vexed, frothy and breathless.

SOURCE: My First Book Of The Year: 2016. A Reader's Group read.

MY THOUGHTS: Started off well, very well, but then ...

Beginning with the story of Henry Whittaker, the story quickly moves onto his daughter, Alma ('a right little dromedary'), who sadly has both her fathers looks and intellect ... not something that bodes particularly well for a young woman 'born with the century' in 1800 even if that young woman is the daughter of a 'useful little fingerstink' who has done well for himself.

A woman very much ahead of her time, a woman encouraged from birth to pursue her curious nature. A talented botanist (indeed much, arguably too much, of the story is taken up by her passion with moss,). A cataloguer of old books procured from the houses of the rich who have found themselves in financial dire straits, it is one of these books that turns the story around.

A coming of age story. A tale of enlightenment set at a time when women were not acknowledged as sexual beings, The Signature Of All Things goes some way in exploring Alma's fervid erotic imaginings.

Beautiful, lyrical prose. Full of humour tinged with great pathos and obviously well researched. Alas, there is only so much I can take of moss, burgeoning sexuality and sexual frustration before I find myself, well, frustrated and I'm afraid after a while what began as a wonderful reading experience became nothing more than a relatively satisfying one.


Mary (Bookfan) said...

I enjoyed your review. I guess a relatively satisfying book isn't too bad.

Tracy Terry said...

It isn't Mary. Just a bit disappointing when it started out so well.

Brandi Kosiner said...

The coming of age theme sounds well done in this one

Trac~ said...

Awww... sorry to hear that about this book. Hope you're feeling better today with your foot! xo

Literary Feline said...

This sounds like an interesting novel. I had to chuckle at your comment about the moss. :-) I hope you are feeling better!

Lily B said...

Don't think I ever read anything by her, but it sounds like one I would probably enjoy!

Kelly said...

Not a book I was aware of before this, I can't say it appeals to me - especially given your thoughts on the story. I can think of botanical things I would find more interesting than moss. ;)

Let's hope your year improves with your next selection!

Suko said...

Tracy, thanks for sharing some thoughts about your first book of the year. I didn't realize it was set in the past (or perhaps I forgot). It sounds as if you enjoyed the style of the writing, the beautiful, lyrical prose.

Karen Alderman said...

"Started off well, very well, but then ..."

Hate when that happens!

Karen @For What It's Worth

Melliane said...

It's the first time I hear about this one but it's great to see you had such a great time with the story and all. maybe

Brian Joseph said...

Great review Tracy.

I have wanted to read this book for some time.

The themes sound interesting to me.

After all, how many books mix all that serious commentary about people with moss :)

Gina R said...

Great review friend...even if it did leave you "frustrated". ;)