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The Glass Palace | [Amitav Ghosh]

The Glass Palace

Set in Burma during the British invasion of 1885, this masterly novel by Amitav Ghosh tells the story of Rajkumar, a poor boy lifted on the tides of political and social chaos, who goes on to create an empire in the Burmese teak forest. When soldiers force the royal family out of the Glass Palace and into exile, Rajkumar befriends Dolly, a young woman in the court of the Burmese Queen, whose love will shape his life. He cannot forget her, and years later, as a rich man, he goes in search of her.
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Publisher's Summary

Set in Burma during the British invasion of 1885, this masterly novel by Amitav Ghosh tells the story of Rajkumar, a poor boy lifted on the tides of political and social chaos, who goes on to create an empire in the Burmese teak forest. When soldiers force the royal family out of the Glass Palace and into exile, Rajkumar befriends Dolly, a young woman in the court of the Burmese Queen, whose love will shape his life. He cannot forget her, and years later, as a rich man, he goes in search of her.

The struggles that have made Burma, India, and Malaya the places they are today are illuminated in this wonderful novel by the writer Chitra Divakaruni calls “a master storyteller.”

©2002 Amitav Ghosh (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Ghosh renders the polite imprisonment of the Burmese royal family in India and the lush, dangerous atmosphere of teak camps in the Burmese forest with fine detail––a perfect balance for the broad strokes of romance and serendipity that drive the story forward." (The New Yorker)

"Ghosh ranges from the condescension of the British colonialists to the repression of the current Myanmar (Burmese) regime in a style that suggests E. M. Forster as well as James Michener. Highly recommended." (Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (344 )
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4.2 (234 )
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4.4 (237 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Katherine Watson Tennessee 12-13-14
    Katherine Watson Tennessee 12-13-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Great book"

    This book held my attention and I really liked the story line. It was a little difficult in the beginning but Burma is an area of the world I know little about and it was fascinating to hear about.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jay TRABUCO CANYON, CA, United States 12-09-14
    Jay TRABUCO CANYON, CA, United States 12-09-14 Member Since 2014

    Writer of The Majick Series

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent"
    Would you listen to The Glass Palace again? Why?

    I might on a long road trip. I typically only read or listen to a book one time... There are too many great stories out there to rehash them.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Too many great characters to list just one.


    Any additional comments?

    This is well written and performed beautifully. You will not regret the journey.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Abranches 11-11-14 Member Since 2014

    Book Lover

    ratings
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    22
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    "Amazing Book"
    Would you listen to The Glass Palace again? Why?

    The book did an awesome job of helping put me the reader in the frame of events occurring in that time period.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Dolly was my favourite character


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet Allen, TX, United States 10-24-14
    Janet Allen, TX, United States 10-24-14 Member Since 2006

    I'm an avid listener. Audio books are a mini-vacation for me. They fill my "need to read" when I don't have time - which is most of the time. Great element of multi-tasking!

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    "Sweeping Epic or Fictional Memoir?"

    I expect that Ghosh intended this book to be a Ken Follett-like sweeping story of Burma, India and much of south Asia during the late 19th and early 20th century, but it reads more like a mood piece or memoir with its focus on scenery, social conventions and detailed analysis of family/caste relationships. The plot spans the lives of several families, starting with the deposition of the last Burmese king through the end of the 2nd World War, but isn't really plot driven, or character driven. It's more a series of stream of consciousness depictions of the thoughts of various related characters. The strong suit of this story is the beautiful, detailed description of the thoughts of the varied characters, illustrating the ways in which the misunderstandings between ruler and ruled fueled WW I and II. The author assumes that the listener is clever enough to understand some plot points without his spelling them out. He expects a lot from the reader, but that serves the progression of the book well. Simon Vance is always a great narrator, and does a remarkable job with the numerous dialects and languages.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    menary kitchen 10-14-14 Member Since 2014
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    "unheardof brilliance"
    Would you listen to The Glass Palace again? Why?

    i will listen again. so much detail


    What other book might you compare The Glass Palace to and why?

    this is a generational story. many are so. nothing comes to mind that would relate


    Which character – as performed by Simon Vance – was your favorite?

    not sure


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    many


    Any additional comments?

    one should listen/read this story. i doubt any person could be disappointed

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julia Staten Island, NY, United States 05-04-14
    Julia Staten Island, NY, United States 05-04-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Very compelling political history told as a novel"
    What made the experience of listening to The Glass Palace the most enjoyable?

    The second half of the book telling the story of the impact of WWII on Burma and India


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I think Arjuna, although as I listened I would have said others. Now looking back, I think it was him. Also Dinu, who is the most compelling, though I learned more from Arjuna's characte.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Simon Vance?

    He isn't my absolute favorite, but I really do like the books that he narrates so probably yes.


    If you could rename The Glass Palace, what would you call it?

    Not sure, but I think I would use part of the title from Gosh's later book, history told in the guise of a travelers tale. That's really what most of his books are.


    Any additional comments?

    Like all of the Gosh books I have listened to, the very best parts of this book are when he enacts the historical drama in very torn characters. He is wonderful at capturing the ambivalence and complete lack of clarity about what is the right thing to do. I enjoyed so many of his insights, it was the best way to learn about the history of that period. His romantic sections are not so great, in my opinion, they are very predictable and don't shed much light on the characters themselves. He is much more compelling when he writes about conflict and confusion. He is really outstanding at capturing unanswerable dilemmas about the Indian identity and the impact of colonialism on the psyche of those colonized.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cecilia 07-14-13
    Cecilia 07-14-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Mixed cultures?"
    Any additional comments?

    I simply can't listen to Simon Vance reading this book about a boy from India in Burma. I completely enjoyed Vance's performances of other books, especially the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, so I did not hesitate to buy this. Unfortunately, I had just finished listening to The Far Pavilions, set in India and perfectly rendered by Vikas Adam. His accents were marvelous. I would not know if they were completely accurate, but I do know that Simon Vance sounding like an elderly Scandinavian is all wrong to read The Glass Palace.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 05-29-13
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 05-29-13 Member Since 2014

    An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.

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    "Riveting picture of the human story of Burma!"
    What did you love best about The Glass Palace?

    The characters were well drawn and very vivid, so that you emphasized with them. I also enjoyed the descriptions of a country I knew very little about. It was an eye opening experience.


    What other book might you compare The Glass Palace to and why?

    This book is similar to Hawaii by James Michener, or Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd. They all are sweeping stories of country's histories told thru a few families. The only difference is that The Glass Palace is only telling a few hundred years of history while the others go centuries.


    Which character – as performed by Simon Vance – was your favorite?

    So many characters I loved. I would have to say Dinu Raha was my favorite. As a young boy he is closer to his mother than father, and survives childhood polio. He loves photography and would be what we call today autistic in his singlemindedness. He falls for Alison the beautiful daughter of Matthew and Elsa and against all odds wins her love.
    He also becomes the voice of Burma and a political prisoner for a time.
    Just loved his character!


    If you could rename The Glass Palace, what would you call it?

    I like the name just fine. Don't think there is a better name.


    Any additional comments?

    This story really brought the world to me. The narrative is told by the individual peoples and made me realize that Britain and America's love for their country and belief in a "manifest destiny" nearly destroyed the people and countries they conquered.
    A very moving tale of the rights of all people to live free in this world.
    Highly recommend!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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