The signature of all things by Elizabeth Gilbert (Penguin Audio, 2013)
After investing 22 hours listening to this novel on CD, I’m still not sure how I feel about it. Let’s start with the facts: it’s the story of a fictional woman botanist whose career spans most of the 19th century. She was born into a wealthy Philadelphia family but ended her days as Curator of Mosses in her mother’s family’s botanical garden back in Holland. While her career was unusual for a women of that time, she probably accomplished as much research and publication as she would have in the 21st century. Her brief marriage gave her an opportunity to sail around the world and see places that only men of that time typically saw. She never met Darwin, but she did meet his associate Wallace. Overall this novel paints a very complete picture of what life would have been like for a woman naturalist in the 19th century.