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Killing me softly

I'm about ninety percent through Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things, and I'm just...gah! I love it so much, and it cuts so close to the bone for me, that unless Gilbert completely ruins it in the home stretch, it will be one of my favorite novels ever.

It's difficult to discuss without revealing significant themes and plot points, but it probably won't spoil the story to say that for the bulk of its many, many pages (or, in my case, hours of audiobook) it's about a female character in her fifties: an intelligent, erudite, repressed, perfectionistic, obsessive and--not incidentally for me--very big, unattractive--woman who doesn't break out of her chrysalis until late in life.

I've avoided reading about it, or the author--I like novels better that way--but I heard that Gilbert spent three years researching the story. Clearly this research included spending lots of time in all the story's locales. Her descriptions of place are brilliant.

As such, it's the kind of novel that only an already-successful writer can undertake--take three years off, travel the world, read widely, meet with experts, then craft a masterpiece of historical fiction.

Late in the story, a new work by a (very) prominent scientist is published before Alma, our central character, has ironed out the imperfections in her own, related theory. The other writer's work, ironically, shows all the faults, not of Alma's theory, but of her perfectionism. Alma loves and admires the new work while envying its author painfully.

I feel exactly that way about The Signature of All Things.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
karen_jk
Nov. 7th, 2013 03:18 am (UTC)
I love the way you wrap this beautifully and tie it in a bow at the end.

And I'm going to read this book!
emeraldsedai
Nov. 7th, 2013 04:47 am (UTC)
I hope you enjoy it. I finished it this morning and found it deeply satisfying.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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