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The Signature of All Things (英語) ペーパーバック – 2014/6/24

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LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION SHORTLISTED FOR THE WELLCOME BOOK PRIZE 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.

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Unlike anything else she has ever written ... Its prose has the elegant sheen of a 19th-century epic, but its concerns - the intersection of science and faith, the feminine struggle for fulfilment - are especially modern -- Steve Almond International Herald Tribune The story of Alma Whittaker's journey of discovery has irresistible momentum -- Helen Dunmore The Times Ms Gilbert has established herself as a straight-up storyteller who dares us into adventures of worldly discovery, and this novel stands as a winning next act ... A bracing homage to the many natures of genius and the inevitable progress of ideas, in a world that reveals its best truths to the uncommonly patient minds -- Barbara Kingsolver International Herald Tribune Charming and compelling ... A big novel in all senses - extensively researched, compellingly readable and with a powerful charm that will surely propel it towards the bestseller lists -- Jane Shilling Daily Telegraph Gilbert has written the novel of a lifetime O, The Oprah Magazine Sumptuous ... Gilbert's prose is by turns flinty, funny, and incandescent New Yorker Quite simply one of the best novels I have read in years ... a bejewelled, dazzling novel -- Elizabeth Day Observer Readers prepared to enter Gilbert Time will be rewarded: she is an unflaggingly curious writer, prone to delightful touches ... Gilbert's period interests seem boundless - she explores everything from self-sacrifice, to homosexuality, Darwinism and Victorian pornography ... This is a novel to be chewed over, slowly -- Lucy Atkins Sunday Times A botanical odyssey through the nineteenth century, global in ambition, revelling in the period's insatiable curiosity about the world ... a tall tale, told with verve and wit Guardian Filled with dazzling storytelling -- Susie Boyt Financial Times Gilbert writes superbly well -- Wendy Holden Daily Mail An intricate, beautifully written historical novel ... A passionate paean to the 19th-century women of science who strove for achievement against the odds -- Anita Sethi Metro Gilbert's observations, of both characters and locations, make this an unexpected joy and in Alma she has created a truly unforgettable heroine -- Anita Chaudhuri Irish Examiner Astute and funny ... comes with generous helpings of optimism and romance. Cynics need not apply Irish Sunday Mirror Ambitious, boldly imagined and packed with authenticating detail, it engages very boldly with the interaction of art and science Andrew Motion, Guardian Gilbert reminds readers she can do, and undo, narratives through impeccably observed and original stories Independent Gilbert shows herself to be a writer at the height of her powers O Magazine Magnificent ... I was just a few pages into the book when I felt myself relax, aware that I was in the safe hands of a master story-teller -- Anna Carey The Irish Times My own 500-pager of choice? Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things ... just read it ... Hugely enjoyable -- Viv Groskop Observer Books of the Year I can't stop thinking about The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert Hillary Clinton, International New York Times This is a book to be chewed over, slowly Lucy Atkins, Sunday Times Every now and then, a book comes along that completely sweeps us up in the life of its heroine. The Signature of All Things is one of those books ... Its unique premise, imaginable characters, witty prose and galloping pace make it the story to immerse yourself in this summer Stylist

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  • ペーパーバック: 592ページ
  • 出版社: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; UK open market ed版 (2014/6/24)
  • 言語: 英語
  • ISBN-10: 1408850044
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408850046
  • 発売日: 2014/6/24
  • 商品パッケージの寸法: 11.3 x 4 x 17.7 cm
  • おすすめ度: 5つ星のうち 5.0 2件のカスタマーレビュー
  • Amazon 売れ筋ランキング: 洋書 - 12,439位 (洋書の売れ筋ランキングを見る)
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形式: ペーパーバック Amazonで購入
 この小説の主題についてである。『The Signature of All Things』-生きとし生けるものの徴-とでも訳すべきだろうか、意味深長な題名の作品である。作品のヒロインのアルマの生き方がメインではあるが、アンブローズを始め彼女を取り巻く個性豊かなすべての登場人物の生き方がそれを盛り上げている。そして80代まで長生きしたアルマよりも先に多くの登場人物が亡くなった。生きている人物も亡くなった人物も、その生きた証を鮮やかに後生に残している。それが人生の生きた「徴」ではないだろうか?人間だけでなくあらゆる植物や動物もその生きている、あるいは生きた「徴」を残している。コケのような目立たない植物もタヒチで拾った野良犬のロジャーも生きとし生けるものすべてにその生存の意味があり存在価値がある。それが作者の言う「生きとし生けるものの徴」の表す意味ではないだろうか?
 ヒロインアルマの生涯をいろいろな切り口で描いている。まず本筋はコケ植物学者としてコケの研究に一生を捧げる強い信念を持った学者としてのアルマである。晩年にはダーウィンの「自然選択の理論」に匹敵する理論をほぼ同時期に独自に発見したほどである。19世紀に女性科学者として自立するアルマにフェミニストでもある筆者の意地が窺える。
 次に、ラブストーリーを絡めながらの複雑な人間関係である。特に、アルマと義理の姉妹の
...続きを読む ›
コメント 4人のお客様がこれが役に立ったと考えています. このレビューは参考になりましたか? はい いいえ 評価を送る...
フィードバックありがとうございました。
申し訳ありませんが、お客様の投票の記録に失敗しました。もう一度試してください。
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投稿者 Martha 投稿日 2013/11/26
形式: Kindle版 Amazonで購入
I couldn't put this down. I read Eat Love Pray and liked it, then hated the movie, and it made me a little skittish about Elizabeth Gilbert, though I am not sure how involved she was with the movie. I took a leap of faith and bought The Signature of All Things and am ready to start rereading it. She writes so well about our relationship to the natural world, the power of a curious mind, the benefits and challenges of aging and loving and pursuing knowledge of the sake of learning. There were a couple times it made me catch my breathe.
コメント 6人のお客様がこれが役に立ったと考えています. このレビューは参考になりましたか? はい いいえ 評価を送る...
フィードバックありがとうございました。
申し訳ありませんが、お客様の投票の記録に失敗しました。もう一度試してください。
違反を報告

Amazon.com で最も参考になったカスタマーレビュー (beta) (「Early Reviewer Program」のレビューが含まれている場合があります)

Amazon.com: 5つ星のうち 4.2 3,392 件のカスタマーレビュー
399 人中、377人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 3.0 3.5 stars 2013/11/25
投稿者 E. Smiley - (Amazon.com)
形式: ハードカバー
When I see a book about a female botanist in the nineteenth century, I expect one of two storylines: either "woman fights sexism to pursue her dreams" or "unconventional woman finds fulfillment in romance"--or both. This book flirts with both narratives but settles down with neither, and is better for it.

The Signature of All Things is a big, ambitious book, beginning with the world-spanning exploits of one Henry Whittaker, thief turned botanist, in the late 1700s, before moving on to his daughter Alma about 50 pages in. Alma grows up fantastically wealthy and encouraged to follow scientific pursuits, falls in love with a local publisher, and you think you know where this is going.... but then, well, it doesn't go that way, and a third of the way through the book she's 48 years old, and then the real story begins.

One of the difficulties with this novel is that there's no real driving plot--or rather, Alma's life is the plot, though there are some significant time-skips--but it consistently defied my expectations and kept my interest. It's a book about the Enlightenment, with a lot of research and discovery and expanding of horizons, and I came away impressed with Gilbert's respect for science. Alma is someone whose intellectual life is as important to her (perhaps more so) than her emotional life, and most authors would have a hard time writing about that sort of character in a positive and believable way--which makes sense; writing a good novel almost always requires an author to be intensely interested in feelings. But Gilbert balances the science and emotion well, and even has me looking at mosses (Alma's specialty) with new eyes. Her writing style itself draws the reader in, energetic and engaging and far more polished than I expected from someone best known for a mega-bestselling mid-life-crisis memoir (judge me all you like for that).

But too often in this 499-page book I felt Gilbert was perhaps getting carried away with her writing. Whole sections go on far longer than necessary (the Tahiti episode, for instance); at least 50 pages could have been cut without harming the story. Worse, the book feels weighted more toward narrative summary than scenes, which means we're being told a lot about the characters and their activities rather than being in the story with them watching events unfold. I've noticed this problem in a number of recent novels, and I don't know whether it originates with authorial lack of confidence or just the desire to cram in everything about a character's life, but it results in a less engaging and memorable story. When Gilbert gets into the scenes, it's excellent: the solar system dance tells us more about Alma's childhood than all the summary preceding it, and lingers far longer in the reader's mind besides.

The biggest problem with all the summarizing is that it distances the reader from the characters. Alma is well-developed and believable, and I enjoyed her story, but my investment came more from curiosity to know what would happen next than any emotional connection to her (and for all the science, this is still a novel, so emotional connections are to be desired). The secondary characters are colorful and often intriguing, but suffer from being described more than shown. Prudence, in particular, is potentially fascinating but gets too little page time, leaving her relationship with Alma not quite believable (they grow up together from the age of 10, without access to other children, and maintain a polite distance the entire time?). Ambrose works because we see his relationship with Alma develop as she experiences it. Retta is bizarre--in fact, all Gilbert's women have extreme personalities of one sort or another, and by the time Retta was introduced my suspension of disbelief was breaking. Henry is a mess of contradictions not really explained by the 50 pages spent on his backstory, though beginning with his adventures rather than Alma's childhood was an astute choice. For the most part I believed in these people, but by zooming out too often Gilbert kept me from truly knowing them.

Overall, then, I found this a worthy novel but not a great one, though it has great potential that a firmer editor might have captured. Not having read Gilbert before, I found it a pleasant surprise and an enjoyable read, and admire its bold choices. I just wish it had been a bit more focused.
106 人中、100人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 3.0 First 300 pages 5 Star. Last 200 Pages 2 Star 2014/3/4
投稿者 S. Wood - (Amazon.com)
形式: Kindle版 Amazonで購入
I think I am the only person on the planet who did not like Eat, Love, Pray. In fact, not only did I not like it, I actually kind of hated it. Therefore, when a member of our reading group suggested we read The Signature of All Things by the same author, I resisted the suggestion with all my might and charm. Alas, I lost the battle (my charm ain't what it used to be).

This is why I was surprised down to my socks when I gobbled the first 300 pages of this book down like a giant bucket of popcorn at the movies. I couldn't believe this book had been penned by the same author as Eat, Love, Pray. The writing was robust, the characters were compelling, the storyline riveting and most of all, there was a historical and educational richness that made you feel like you were getting smarter and smarter with every page you turned. In this way, Gilbert's novel reminded me of the historical fiction by authors James Michener and Leon Uris. I had even started imagining my critique to my reading group that would include such accolades as "one of my favorite books of all time."

Not so fast. Around page 300 I hit the skids with this book and hit them big. The reading went from sailing through chapter after chapter with the wind at my back on a sea of glass, to slogging my way through each page as if I were hip deep in a muddy bog with three bags of groceries in my arms. My sense is that Gilbert ran out of steam. In some ways, the story deflated slowly, as with the fortunes and foibles of some of the main characters, but mostly, there was a sudden shift in tone, storyline, and even the style of writing. I swear it seemed like a different person took over the writing of the last 200 pages. The longer that this workman-like writing and irksome plot continued, the angrier I got that the author had taken me to the celestial heights of reading pleasure, only to drop me to the dark depths of reading despair. Okay, that was a little dramatic, but you get my point. I wish Ms. Gilbert's editors had applied as firm a hand to the end of the book, as they did at the beginning.

Now, once and for all, I am done with Elizabeth Gilbert (unless, of course, she shows up on my doorstep and politely asks me to read her next book and then I certainly will.) :-)

Final note: almost everyone else in my reading group felt the same way I did. There were a couple of people who didn't like the book from the start, but for those who did, their feelings had changed drastically by the end.
497 人中、464人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 5.0 A rich and right experience. 2013/10/2
投稿者 Candace Siegle, Greedy Reader - (Amazon.com)
形式: ハードカバー
This was my first time reading Elizabeth Gilbert--I'm one of the six people in the universe who didn't read "Eat, Pray, Love"--and I'm glad I didn't approach this novel with any preconceived ideas. I'm sure it's nothing like her previous bestseller, but if that book can propel this book high on the lists that would be great. "The Signature of All Things" is a lovely novel, beautifully written with great scope and rich characters.

The novel is full of small delights of writing. Money, Gilbert writes, follows Alma's father around "like a small, excited dog." The nineteenth century enchantment with science and the natural world is expressed fully and with the sense of wonder Alma and her family felt. Alma is educated in the 19th century way by her autodidact botanist father Henry and her classically educated Dutch mother, who want her to be able to understand the world on many levels. She does, and she doesn't.

Where the novel falters is in the secondary characters, notably Alma's adopted sister Prudence and their friend, Retta. Both characters are meant to offer contrasts to Alma's cerebral, carnal aspects, but as people they are not believable, nor are their marriages. The novel becomes a little unmoored--as does Alma--once she leaves White Acres for the greater world. These are strange false steps in an otherwise assured work.

But you know what? Who cares! It might take a little suspension of disbelief in the last third or so of "The Signature of all Things" but each page is still a pleasure and otherwise it might just be too perfect. May this quality novel have the success of Elizabeth Gilbert's other books. It would be nice to see it at the top of the NYT bestseller list.
6 人中、6人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 4.0 Amazing achievement 2015/3/19
投稿者 Russell J. Sanders - (Amazon.com)
形式: Kindle版 Amazonで購入
I have devoured Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir Eat, Pray, Love twice, reading it voraciously. I have even had a session with her Bali medicine man, Ketut Liyer. So when a friend recommended Gilbert’s novel The Signature of All Things, I knew I must immediately purchase it and read it. The book is an amazing achievement. It is a saga of one woman, Alma Whitaker, from her birth to her imminent death. We follow Alma through her early teenage years to old age, filling most of the nineteenth century. We see the world through her eyes, a world that includes Pennsylvania, Tahiti, and Holland. Through it all, she views the world with the questioning sensibility of a true scientist as she ponders our purpose on earth and the evolution of mosses, her specialty. She encounters some remarkable characters along the way: her stern, incredibly rich father; the charming young man with whom she falls in love; the frail, ethereal orchid artist whom she marries; the strange English missionary in Tahiti; the strong, beautiful, god-like Tahitian native; her supportive Dutch uncle; and the unusual younger scientist with whom she shares a theory of life. There are women, too, in her life: her sister, her teenage friend, her childhood nursemaid, her mother, and a strong Tahitian woman. But Alma lives in a man’s world, and her life is most influenced by the men she encounters. Gilbert’s novel is meticulously researched, capturing the worlds of botany, of the Tahiti of the mid-1800s, the era of Darwin’s theory, and the spirituality that Alma is exposed to. Gilbert’s writing is skillful. She manages to make us believe that her novel is not one written in the 21st century, but rather a work that could have been written by Henry James or Charles Dickens. This rich work is not an easy read. It is just short of 500 pages, most of it narrative that is complex with science and nature. But its message is a grand one…we are on this earth for a reason, and quite possibly, there is a spiritual force that guides us, communes with us—and that those that come before us never die. They remain in our hearts and minds to continue leading us, counseling us, and loving us.
12 人中、12人の方が、「このレビューが参考になった」と投票しています。
5つ星のうち 2.0 So much potential, so little delivery... 2014/5/10
投稿者 Mz. Mardy - (Amazon.com)
形式: ハードカバー Amazonで購入
I appreciate that Liz Gilbert was inspired to write something about botany, a subject that is near to my heart, and was very excited to read the book. While it took me a while to become invested in the characters, I thought the story LG laid out was going to be very compelling. When the book gave a bit of a respite between all the disappointments of her sister and good friend getting married, her mother dying, and aged the character of Alma, I thought, "OK, Gilbert's laid the groundwork for a great second half of the book." I couldn't have been more wrong. An interesting suitor turns out to be a nightmare; a legacy left by a dead father turns out force an unlikely and random change of character; a mystery gets weird, creepy and contrived to settle the sexual longing issue...it's like planning a huge feast with all kinds of great ingredients, starting all the dishes at once, and then realizing there is no way you are going to be able to serve all of the food, so just serve everything up, undercooked, overcooked, sloppy, or whatever. There was so much in this story that could have been magnificent, but Liz, you need a better editor and Richard from Texas to set you on a path to clarity! You have a great deal of talent to write so detailed and wonderfully about the world of plants, and I loved the "Signature", but why not play on your book theme!?! This could have easily usurped "EPL" but contained too many wonderful ideas that were gloriously born but not developed in a meaningful manner. LG is a very talented person, and I really wish this would have turned out better for her.
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