When the book club selected a book from the Eat Pray Love author, I simply assumed it would be cut from chick-lit cloth, maybe heartwarming, maybe uplifting. When I realized it was a historical I thought, ok, I'm down with that. What I didn't expect was something to be quite so literary and scientific. In the end, it presents a fictionalized alternate history of evolutionary theories while keeping the actual histories safely intact.
The Signature of All Things spans nearly a century, and starts many years before the main character is even born. It's one of those sweeping books that covers about 100 years, and as such, you never quite know where it is going, at least not till the end. While the storytelling was good, you had to get used to abrupt introductions to new characters, this is what the author used to segue into new story arcs.
The main character, Alma was a competent, intelligent and sensible young woman. She was born into fortunate circumstances yet her life never followed a traditional path. However, she did have twists and challenges, and at each bend you observed development of her character, and of her sense of self. As I mentioned before, I never quite knew where the story was going to lead, and on a few occasions, it seemed to take some nonsensical turns. However, I have to hand it to the author, everything character and device served a purpose and served it well.
This is one for my feminist bookshelf, although I wouldn't call Alma a feminist. She was too comfortable to worry about such things. As a feminist, I enjoyed Alma's story a great deal, but she never espoused to feminist ideals. She never fought for equality. She fought for truth and enlightenment, and in the end I believe she found it.
Not really part of the review, my book club has asked that we all contribute questions for discussion...
What's up with Ambrose Pike? (view spoiler)
Could Alma been written as anything other than a spinster?(view spoiler)
Ahem... was Alma's oral fixation essential to the story?(view spoiler)