The Signature of All Things is the 19th century story of Alma Whittaker a plain yet brilliant woman and daughter of the formidable entrepreneur Henry Whittaker. The story tells of Alma’s growing up on a wealthy Philadelphia estate surrounded by acres of wildlife, aggressively educated by her Dutch mother Beatrix. Though plain Alma’s knowledge of botany and the natural world far exceed those around her, her keen intellect leads her to a life of spinsterhood, alienating any prospective suitors. Alma’s vigorous botanical career and personal disappointments bring her to travel the globe, where, in Tahiti she has a euphoric revelation about the natural world and her role in it. Gilbert’s writing is eloquent and descriptive and I found myself connecting with Alma and rooting for her triumph.