Signature of all Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. Recommended by Wendy ( Bury Archive and Library).
5th January 1800. Alma Whittaker is born into a perfect Philadelphia winter. Her father, Henry Whittaker, is a bold and charismatic botanical explorer whose vast fortune belies his lowly beginnings as a vagrant in Sir Joseph Banks’ Kew Gardens and as a deck hand on Captain Cook’s HMS Resolution . Alma’s mother, a strict woman from an esteemed Dutch family, is conversant in five living languages (and two dead ones). An independent girl with a thirst for knowledge, it is not long before Alma comes into her own within the world of botany. But as Alma’s careful studies of moss take her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, the man she comes to love draws her in the opposite direction
‘This is a beautifully written book which tells the story of Alma Whittaker whose life spans almost the whole of the 19th century. Gilbert cleverly mixes fact with fiction by introducing key enlightenment figures of the period such as Captain Cook and Alfred Russel Wallace. Yet what blew me away about this novel was the love story between Alma, the woman of science, and Ambrose Pike, man of mysticism and deep spiritual feeling. A wonderful read!’ Wendy.