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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finely Crafted Work
Be prepared to learn about a part of history and an area of the world about which you know next to nothing. Ghosh has done a great deal of research to give his novel lush detail and historical accuracy, and then provides a rich family saga which delivers the fruits of his labors. More than that, he makes us think about the evils of empires, and the implications of...
Published on July 2 2003 by JSollami

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3.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately forgettable.....
"The Glass Palace" by Amitav Ghosh is a perfect example of what happens when an author writes a book to illustrate a point. It ends up ultimately disappointing on a story-telling level, & due to the reader's lack of involvement, the author's point fails to move.
I admit, I was hoping for a different book when I started "The Glass Palace". From...
Published on March 21 2001 by L. Alper


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finely Crafted Work, July 2 2003
By 
JSollami (Stamford, CT) - See all my reviews
Be prepared to learn about a part of history and an area of the world about which you know next to nothing. Ghosh has done a great deal of research to give his novel lush detail and historical accuracy, and then provides a rich family saga which delivers the fruits of his labors. More than that, he makes us think about the evils of empires, and the implications of personal decisions to serve masters other than those of our own making. He tells the story of displaced peoples, manipulated by the British not just physically, but mentally and spiritually as well. One final comment: The book is damn entertaining, and will stay with you long after you've read it. Instead of what most novels do, which is fade out after the first 100 or so pages, this book builds on itself and expands in richness as it draws closer to the present day. I highly recommend it as a work in which you can lose yourself and come away entertained as well as educated about a part of the world you may never have thought about.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible story, completely engaging., Jan. 25 2003
By 
Richard Sawyer (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
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I love historical fiction, and, in general, can be somewhat picky about what I read. The Glass Palace is one of the finest works of its kind I have ever read. From the first page, I was totally engaged. Ghosh is a master story teller. He has done a very impressive job of providing an exciting historical background of Burma, Malaysia, and India over many decades, interwoven with well developed characters across generations. I will read this book again someday. I very highly recommend this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book about Myanmar/Burma, April 12 2014
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This review is from: The Glass Palace (Kindle Edition)
I read a lot of books about Myanmar so am very aware of the history. I find this book just brought it all together for me. I just recently returned from visiting there so really enjoyed reading this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Continuum of Intergenerational Love, March 5 2014
By 
Ian Gordon Malcomson (Victoria, BC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Glass Palace (Paperback)
I like involved stories that move with the ebb and flow of history, all the time attempting to make sense of change as new generations emerge. “The Glass Palace” is one such richly woven, effectively researched epic about two families coming together in the most extraordinary of circumstances - the breakup of the British Empire in the Far East. In a long circuitous process their various members will form both lasting and transient relationships that will contribute to an overall big and more unsettled future. In this well-crafted, complex and riveting tale, the author traces the ups and downs of two unlikely characters: the poor Burmese cabdriver, Rajkumar, and a young royal servant, Dolly, who, for the next seventy years of tumultuous history, will go on an incredible journey together that the reader does not want to miss. Their paths first cross briefly during the violent overthrow of the monarchy in Rangoon, only to meet again later in India where fortunes have changed. Against traditional opposition, they marry and raise a family back in Burma where Rajkumar, by now a wealthy timber merchant, sees a lucrative opportunity to invest in the rubber trade. His plantation at Morningside will prosper from the outset because economic and geopolitical times are right. Little does he realize that he and Dolly are on the cusp of tremendous change happening within and without greater India, the legendary jewel in the imperial crown. Cataclysmic forces around them conspire to destabilize the good life they have struggled to build for themselves : the end of the aristocracy, the rise of a middle-class, the death of colonialism, the unleashing of nationalism and the fight for independence. Soon the good life will be gone as people in their circle of friends will be sucked into the great vortex of war, economic depression, pestilence, genocide, and famine. The glass palace - that majestic edifice of royal Burmese supremacy and security - will be quickly shattered as it is overrun by the barbarians of ruthless change and incivility. This couple’s children and their friends will soon follow their own counsels because they, too, have become susceptible to the forces of social, political and economic change. While much of this intricate story involves people desperately searching to reconnect with others from their past, time offers one consolation: those who survive get to see the next generation rise to meet a fresh set of challenges. For those who love historical fiction this is a must read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately forgettable....., March 21 2001
By 
L. Alper (Englewood CO) - See all my reviews
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"The Glass Palace" by Amitav Ghosh is a perfect example of what happens when an author writes a book to illustrate a point. It ends up ultimately disappointing on a story-telling level, & due to the reader's lack of involvement, the author's point fails to move.
I admit, I was hoping for a different book when I started "The Glass Palace". From the reviews & jacket description I was expecting another "The Far Pavillions" only from the Indian point of view. MM Kaye's masterful evocation of colonial India has been one of my favorite books for nearly 25 years. "The Glass Palace" will not be joining it's ranks.
The primary fault of this book is that Ghosh seems to have created each character to illustrate a specific aspect of the Indian/Burmese experience. The protagonists never seem to come alive & their actions do not spring from a logical progression, but rather from Ghosh's need to introduce a plot point. Compounding this problem is the author's tendency to skip over entire decades that effect the characters in single sentences. For instance, World War I is dismissed as "The worlds need for rubber would make them rich beyond their wildest dreams". That's it???!!!
Ghosh also makes the mistake of assuming the readers' familiarity with Burmese history as well as customs & clothes. Frequently the characters are referred to as wearing "htmeins" or "longyis". Personally, I have no idea what either garment is or looks like. Some sort of description would be helpful! We are told a leading protagonist, Dolly Sein, is an orphan adopted by Queen Supayalat as a servant. Personally I wondered how she got the name of Dolly. Is this a traditional Burmese name? Were her birth-parents of European origin? No explanation for this odd name is given.
Although I was not bored while reading "The Glass Palace" I never felt swept away either. This is a book that is ultimately forgettable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent historical drama, June 7 2004
By 
This book is a giant amongst English language Asian novels and must surely elevate Amitav Ghosh to the heady heights where Rohinton Mistry and Vikram Seth already sit.
The saga begins in 1885 with the British expulsion of the last king of Burma from Mandalay to permanent exile in Ratnagiri on the west coast of India. It continues through to the very end of the twentieth century and the fortunes of modern day Myanmar and democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The story is entwined with the life and times of Rajkumar, his wife Dolly, their children and grandchildren and various lifelong friends. Aged only eleven when he first sets his eyes on ten year old Dolly, he falls in love and that love forms the main thread of the story. Dolly leaves Mandalay to continue her service with the exiled royal family and is destined for spinsterhood until Rajkumar leaves Burma to track her down exactly two decades later.
The story unfolds against the backdrop of the living political history of Burma, Malaya and India over some 120 years. The challenging issues of colonialism, racialism, independence movements and the two world wars are entwined with the family fortunes. Rajkumar, from a penniless orphan, becomes a giant in the Burmese timber industry winning major supply contracts in the face of competition from established western businesses. Meanwhile the last few years of the royal family's exile is described with such detail that you almost imagine Ghosh was a fly on the wall.
He clearly did much research to be able to describe so graphically the Burmese timber industry - one section describing the death of a working elephant from anthrax was quite an eye opener - the Malayan rubber plantations, the evolution of the motor car, the devastating impact of the second world war on the innocent population, the Indian Independence army and especially the overland exodus of many thousands of expatriate Indians from Malaya through Siam and Burma to the relative safety of Calcutta in 1942.
I was hardly able to put this book down such was its grip. It is a magnificent historic and romantic tale and is worth at least 6 stars!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Writer and Book, July 24 2007
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This book led my wife and I to travel to Burma. We even spent nearly 2 years living there and we lay it all to the curiosity kindled by "The Glass Palace". Furthermore it led us to reading 'The Hungry Tide' which led us on a trip to the Sudarbans near Kolkota. We have also read "In an Antique Land" which led us to the Malabar coast of India and which may yet get us to Egypt.
Read The Glass Palace....if you dare!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, Feb. 20 2010
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This review is from: The Glass Palace (Paperback)
Great book, great story, a really compelling mix between History of a part of the world the westerners tend to don't know a lot about, and the family and love stories of three families. I higly recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Let This Book Carry You Away!, Oct. 17 2006
By 
If you are in the mood to be transported into an exotic world that seems almost like a fairy tale, then this is the book for you. Amitav Ghosh has written an incredible story with many, many layers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ghosh's story of Burma and the British, July 1 2004
By 
Zeeshan Hasan (Dhaka, Bangladesh) - See all my reviews
This book reminds me of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's masterpiece, "One hundred years of solitude". Except, of course, that it's set in Burma, and traces the period of British rule through the eyes of a young Bengali immigrant. Ghosh's prose is stunning as always.
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The Glass Palace
The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh (Paperback - Sept. 13 2001)
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