I loved this book!
“The Signature of All Things” will now be in my top 10 favorite list. Alma Whittaker was a tall, big-boned, intelligent women who was encouraged to be smart, to study and to have strong opinions. She enjoyed conversation and enjoyed expressing her opinions. She went on adventures. She was an expert Botanist. She chose the direction of her life. She did not fit into society’s expectation of women. That did impact her, but she did not let those expectation diminish or limit her. Yes, I felt like Alma and I are kindred spirits though she is a fictional character in the 1800’s.
My favorite passages and why:
“The she would go for a brisk circumambulation of the ship’s deck … with Roger the dog trailing behind her. Her hands would be trembling and her heart would be racing with emotion. She would clear her head and her lungs, and reconsider her position. Afterward she would return to her berth, sit down with a fresh sheet of paper, and begin writing all over again.”
I am believer in walks with dogs, horseback rides and yoga to clear my mind and cultivate mindfulness.
“…..her thesis was nearly complete. She did not consider it entirely complete, for something about it was still missing. The creature in the corner of the dream was still gazing at her, unsatisfied and unsettled. The sense of incompletion chewed at her, and she resolved to keep at the idea until she had conquered it.”
I have made friends with my creature. I sit with the nagging, unnameable feeling/presence/unknown question often.
(SPOILER ALERT as the final passage is from the end of the book, it doesn’t ruin the story, but it is a summary of Alma.)
“I think I have been the most fortunate woman who ever lived. My heart has been broken, certainly, and most of my wishes did not come true. I have disappointed myself in my own behavior, and others have disappointed me…”
“I am fortunate because I have been able to spend my life in the study of the world. As such, I have never felt insignificant. This life is a mystery, yes, and it is often a trial, but if one can finds some facts within it, one should always do so – for knowledge is the most precious of all commodities.”
I hope my life can be summarized this beautifully.