I do not read many serious novels. I don't suppose I have read more than half a dozen in the past twenty years, not counting the re-reading of several of Jane Austen's works. However, I learned long ago to trust my big sister Barbara's recommendations, so when she suggested that I take a look at The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert, I surfed over to Amazon.com and ordered a copy. Shortly thereafter the novel arrived on my desk with a thunk, all 499 pages of it. I have just closed the book after reading the last page, my eyes tearing up as I did. I most warmly recommend it to all of you.
What is it about? Well, in one sense, it is about frustrated sexuality and Botany, especially Botany. I take that back. It would be more accurate to say that it is especially about frustrated sexuality. No, let me say that it is about both frustrated sexuality and Botany. But then, it is also about the pharmaceutical industry and Tahiti. It is the story of the long life of a wealthy and intellectually curious American woman. To be sure, it is also, in a manner of speaking, about Richard Dawkins and the selfish gene. And a good deal of it is about mosses.
It is one of the most extraordinary novels I have read.