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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.

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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  • Janis
  • ARLINGTON, MA, United States
  • 11-01-11

Wonderful Family Saga Set in Burma and Malaysia

This is a big story written by one of my favorite authors, Amitav Ghosh. He gives the full sweep of history in this region in the 20th century, starting with the end of Burmese royalty, the movement of Indians into the culture of Burma, the horrendous toll of suffering and displacement during WW II, ending with the restrictive political climate of the new "Myanmar". It is told through the intertwined families of the book, a large and intertwined lot. I loved the attention to the characters, and the coming together of many different family connections that span the generations. The characters are quite unique, and the woman are very independent. Ghosh is a great story teller and I would recommend his other books as well. The book's length and detail draw you in, the narrator is very good and brings all the characters alive. It is not a book for someone looking for a fast moving plot, but there is a lot of drama throughout the novel and a fascinating book for a good, long listening experience.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Marvelous listening experience

I read the book a few years back and loved it. It is beautifully written, very absorbing, and heartbreaking. This is a great way to re-read the book, or to read it for the first time. Simon Vance is one of the best narrators I've heard, and he does a marvelous job here. A fabulous listen!

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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A Delicious Escape into the Past

Wow, I cannot remember why I selected this, as I had not read Ghosh before. It has been too enthralling an audiobook to put down! It has remarkable language portraits of India, Burma and Malaya, complete with smells, people, built environments, economics and politics. Sometimes it feels that too many historic events directly affect its players, but the reader is extraordinary and the novel's ability to evoke a place and time is superb.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Excellent

FANTASTIC book! Couldn't stop listening. Now, can't stop thinking about it. I did not find the narrative too long. I would highly recommend this book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ty
  • gardena, CA, USA
  • 05-02-10

I struggled to finish... enough said.

I can appreciate the story - young boy grows up during a rough time but ends up becoming very successful, both in his business and personal life. I can even appreciate the author's ability to help you "see" the story. I feel like I got a real sense of how it was in Burma during this time. What I can't appreciate, are some of the long stretches of (seemingly) unnecessary details and conversations. I expect to have loads of details in an unabridged version, but sheesh, those details are usually helpful in telling the story. Not this time; instead I felt like there was a bunch of fluff added in. On top of that, the end read as if the author had gotten tired of writing, but still wanted to cover a 10? 20? 30? year timespan so he just threw it all out there with no clear indication of the year, or the amount of time that had passed. 2.5 stars for the idea of the story, -2.5 stars for making it sooo difficult to finish. (I actually gave up about 5 times).

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Touchng, Beautiful--and Annoying

The Glass Palace is beautifully written, with wonderfully-drawn characters and many touching moments. However, between Part 1 and Part 2 there was such a quantum leap in time and events that I went back to Audible to make sure that I had downloaded all the parts. There was a gap of 15 years, during which protagonists who were in different countries somehow got together and were married in some unexplained manner that was never clarified. Once I got past this, however, the story continued in a very satisfactory manner, and I am glad I stuck with it. Simon Vance's narration was superb, as always. I highly recommend this book despite its flaws. It is a portrayal of a venue that has not been well-covered in fiction--Burma (now Myanmar) and Malaya from early 20th Century to the 1970s.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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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. <br/>He also becomes the voice of Burma and a political prisoner for a time. <br/>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. <br/>A very moving tale of the rights of all people to live free in this world. <br/>Highly recommend!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Long book made longer by very little happiness

Only listen if you want a sweeping history of Burma and India. It's well-written and narrated with great detail, but so long! And I found it to be sad on balance.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good one third of a book

The first thirds very good, second third okay. Last third - author gave up any pretense of having a real story and real characters and slipped into thinly-veiled lecture mode. Good performance couldn't save it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Janet
  • Allen, TX, United States
  • 10-24-14

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful