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.
"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)
Really a family history intertwined with Burmese history rather than a novel of real personal growth or significant challenges.
Every scene was told with the same reporter style so it was somewhat difficult to get emotionally caught-up. Overall the story (history) was compelling.
I am a 65-year-old psychologist, married for 25 years, with two sons who are 25 and 22. I love reviewing the books and the feedback I get.
In the past several weeks I have devoted about four and a half hours trying to enjoy this book. But, when you are "trying to enjoy" something, what that means is that you are not actually enjoying it at all. Maybe it's cultural, as my wife is fond of saying. You do find yourself rooting for the young Rajkumar, but there is no suspense at all in this story. Clearly he is going to grow up and marry the lovely young Dolly (I am so sure that that is not how to pronounce her name; it's just phonetics). I bought the book because I thought I might learn something about Burma, and because Simon Vance is just a really good narrator. Call me an American, which I certainly am, but the book is not friendly to an American reader, in the way that Tim Hallinan's books, which are about Thailand, certainly are written from the American viewpoint. I love his books, and I am educated as well as being entertained by them. I learn quite a bit about Thailand and about Southeast Asia from them. Tim knows how to hold his audience in the way that Amitav Ghosh does not. This week I realized that I listened to Owen Laukkenan's book "Criminal Enterprise" in its entirety while I was in the middle of struggling through this book. Not a good sign. Maybe you have to be Burmese, although that sentence sounds preposterous to me as I write it. Maybe I should just listen to the hundreds of other audiobooks that I have loved and been entertained by.
Having spent a month in Burma the end of 2011 the book brought back many memories as many of the streets in Yangon are still named as they are in the book. Yangon is in such disrepair from many years of neglect it has the feeling of melting into the streets. The architecture, for the most part, is still that of the times of the empire. Magnificent but falling down. Was in Yangon for 4 days total but a wonderful city to just get lost in.
It is my impression that many Americans have little awareness of history or events that happen outside of our country. The idea of people in Asia moving between countries to find work, to marry, to deal with family obligations might seem contrived if one has not delved into the history of some of these countries a bit. In almost every major city in Asia there are significant populations of people from surrounding countries. Sometimes there of their own will and sometimes not.
Changes in Burma might happen rapidly if the military does not take outright control again. For a look at Burma in the latter part of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century you might like Emma Larkin's "Searching for George Orwell in Burma".
Colorful story told with great feeling. I learned the history of GB and Burma, the battles in Burma during WW11 and the complex relationships of the peoples In t
I really enjoyed this book. It was subtly jarring when i was quietly reminded that the people in the story were not members of my own culture- but the momentary realizations were not disruptive (nor intended to be educational)... they just added to the books overall story. People in different places - do the same things for different reasons. But the purpose of the story was not about cultural differences - it was an amazing historical fiction. Just a really good story. One other thing that was intriguing and excellent was how the author transitioned between the geberations. I was wondering how it would be done in one book because my primary template for a three generation book is Ken Follets Century Trilogy.. where each book follows the story of the following generation. This book also covered three generations but all in the same book - and the transitions were seamless and non disrutive... just excellent!
Excellent Historical Timeline.
I like the way the characters' stories mingle and the thread that wound through the history of Burma, Indian and Malaysia. I like the way the weaknesses and strengths of each character were developed so the reader understood why the character was behaving a certain way at a given time.
His voice was just so appropriate for all characters, it did distract from the story in any way.
The most memorable character was Dolly because you meet her almost from the beginning and she morphs through so many circumstances as the story evolves. She begins as a maid to the princesses and is exiled to India where she meets Rajkuma.
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.
Writer of The Majick Series
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.
Too many great characters to list just one.
This is well written and performed beautifully. You will not regret the journey.
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