Alma, a woman of science

I have just read a book that has gone straight into my top ten, but explaining why is difficult. My daughter, sending it to me for my birthday, wrote; I really hope you like this book – it’s lots of fun & a bit bonkers, but a very enjoyable story and a brilliant heroine.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things has, above all things, a brilliant heroine.

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I don’t remember a story  so straightforwardly told and yet in which I was continually taken aback by the next turn of the narrative. This sense of being caught in mid-arabesque and sent in another direction persisted to the end of the last printed page – the acknowledgements. This is a long book and I wondered as I started, if I would ever get to the end. There were even moments when I thought, I’m not sure I like this book, yet I kept turning the pages. The narrative style is dry, yet moving; the subject matter is sometimes alarmingly microscopic, yet captivating; the narration is eyebrow-raisingly frank, yet always believable.

It is really a story about human curiosity, it might even be a story about growing old, or it might be a story about all the things that interest the reader most. If I had my way, which of course I won’t, everyone would read it. Almost all women would find great enjoyment here. Women who work in the sciences should search it out and consume it.

Gilbert also wrote the best-selling autobiographical, Eat Pray Love, which seems to have divided readers into lovers and haters. I can’t tell which I will be, but I have a feeling that The Signature of All Things is a very different story. In this one Gilbert has slotted total fiction into a very real and fact-filled part of western history.

Oh, and it’s a garden lover’s paradise too. It more or less starts in Kew Garden and ends in… but I’d hate to be guilty of a spoiler.

Happy Winter Solstice, Christmas, New Year or whatever you are celebrating.

Here is a happy Garrya elliptica and some surprised daffodils. I saw winter aconites out in a nearby garden!DSCN8743 - Version 2


Chaos, crocus and broccoli

The site for the new greenhouse has reached (I hope) the lowest point in its development. We have removed the old green plastic affair,DSCN4916and begun to clear the area.


Then we made some more mess,DSCN4951

and attempted to cut the root of an old philadelphus in half.DSCN4953This is not a bright idea, but this shrub is one of the original ones and has such sweet-smelling flowers I am reluctant to dig it right out, even though the root will make it hard to get past the new greenhouse.

In the meantime every crocus in the garden is out, not to mention some early tulips and the garden is awash with primrose and miniature daffodils.

crocus Blue Pearl

crocus Blue Pearl

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Finally, I can’t hide my pride in our first broccoli. This was cut and eaten on February 22nd.

purple sprouting broccoli

purple sprouting broccoli