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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting and unusual escape reading.
Full of the colors, scents, and sounds of exotic Burma in the 1860's, this novel comes to life within the Glass Palace of the royal family and in the streets of Mandalay in the final days before the British arrive to colonize. Giving life to the Burmese point of view, Rajkumar and Dolly, orphaned children working as servants when the novel begins, become the founders of a...
Published on 2 Sept. 2003 by Mary Whipple

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Spoiled by hollow characters and hasty narrration
The author's painstaking research shows in his insightful paragraphs about elephants, as well as in the relating of the historical backdrop, and the torn loyalties of Indian soldiers in the Anglo-Japanese conflict in Malaya. The author evidently had the knowledge to develop these themes more thoroughly, into something better than this. Instead, they are incidental to an...
Published on 4 May 2012 by Colin MB


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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting and unusual escape reading., 2 Sept. 2003
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Glass Palace (Paperback)
Full of the colors, scents, and sounds of exotic Burma in the 1860's, this novel comes to life within the Glass Palace of the royal family and in the streets of Mandalay in the final days before the British arrive to colonize. Giving life to the Burmese point of view, Rajkumar and Dolly, orphaned children working as servants when the novel begins, become the founders of a family whose members, in succeeding generations, reflect the economic and the political realities in Burma, Malaya, and India over the 150 years from the British raj to the present day.
Working as suppliers of teak, petroleum, and rubber, members of this family and of two other families with whom they have close ties, also work as soldiers supporting Britain during World Wars I and II, with the independence movement in Burma and India, and eventually as anti-communist intellectuals in the present state of Myanmar. By having these families participate in the important historical events which occurred in this part of the world, Ghosh does a remarkable job of personalizing these events and making them memorable for readers. The action, especially during the World War II invasion of Malaya by the Japanese, is vivid and exciting, as people try to flee the shooting in Malaya but find roads closed to Burma and Siam. While this is not War and Peace, The Glass Palace is a fascinating look into the history and cultures of a region which has had little exposure in western novels. Mary Whipple
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An impressive novel and a lovely read....., 22 Nov. 2008
By 
Wynne Kelly "Kellydoll" (Coventry, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Glass Palace (Paperback)
This is a very ambitious novel which takes a great sweep across three generations of Burmese and Indian characters. It starts in Mandalay and moves on to India and Malaysia. It is a complex story with a myriad of characters who are all related in some way. The book begins in 1905 with Rajkumar, an Indian boy who ends up in Burma. He is hardworking and entrepreneurial (though selfish and often oblivious to the sufferings of others). He becomes entranced by a young servant of the Burmese royal family who are being sent into exile by the British colonial powers. Many years later he eventually seeks her out in India. The story ends in 1996 with Burma in the grip of the army and Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest.
There are excellent descriptions of life in Mandalay at the beginning of the last century, of the rubber plantations in Malaya and teak forests in Burma.
Amitav Ghosh explores the themes of colonialism, imperialism, loyalty and family ties. He really brings home the chaos of the wartime - when people had no idea what was going, communications were non-existent and yet decisions about which side to be on had still to be taken.
An impressive novel and a lovely read.
I do have a (small) criticism of the number of non-English words that were used with no explanation. Some of these could be guessed from the context but I have to confess that others just left me perplexed!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and intelligent historical novel, 14 July 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Glass Palace (Hardcover)
A fascinating novel that covers the broad sweep of historical change over three generations and three countries (Burma, India and Malaya) from the exile of the last King & Queen of Burma to the present day. The narrative follows a line of loosely connected characters who make this complicated historical period very accessible to the general reader. It's the first novel I've read, since Orwell's Burmese Days, actually set in Burma and as such is of special interest. It's beautifully and compellingly written: a real tour de force.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely, crisp tale of the East, 12 Aug. 2002
This review is from: The Glass Palace (Paperback)
This story is a beautiful introduction to a century of life in India, Burma and Malaya. The characters are both symbolic and endearing each representing an archetype without loosing human depth. The backdrop of daily local customs adds colour and subtlety to the tale. Most of all, it is written in a simple and crisp English which will shame most modern Western authors.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Spoiled by hollow characters and hasty narrration, 4 May 2012
This review is from: The Glass Palace (Paperback)
The author's painstaking research shows in his insightful paragraphs about elephants, as well as in the relating of the historical backdrop, and the torn loyalties of Indian soldiers in the Anglo-Japanese conflict in Malaya. The author evidently had the knowledge to develop these themes more thoroughly, into something better than this. Instead, they are incidental to an over-ambitious, bitty, shallow, sprawl with not much of a story to hold it all together, a prosaic style with some grating English usage ('didn't used to') and scant character development. We are hastily introduced to characters we scarcely recall later on when they reappear, largely ill-defined and unsympathetic. Whole decades are dispensed with in sketchy summaries, the pace suddenly going into overdrive for a few pages as though the author couldn't wait to get to the end. At times you feel starved of detail while at others you wonder why you're getting so much (the precise details of the models of the many obscure old cars mentioned). Personally, I didn't actually manage to get to the end - the last 100+ pages are a kind of epilogue - a jump of 40-50 years and then an impersonal rattle through events and people about whom we know little and care less. Oh and I didn't get on with the mostly gratuitous sex scenes either. Or maybe they just seemed gratuitous because I didn't care about the characters and it wasn't obvious why they suddenly decided to do it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars elegant, 23 July 2002
This review is from: The Glass Palace (Hardcover)
elegant is the word i would use to describe this book. it takes the reader on a journey and captivates you. i started reading this book and within an hour i was deeply engrossed. Ghosh's characters seem so real, and their experiences so vivid that you cannot but help falling in love with the book. i loved it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dazzling, tasteful and polished - compulsive reading., 11 Mar. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Glass Palace (Hardcover)
This was a well-researched, beautifully written novel that held me spell-bound from beginning to end. The prose was like a rare gem - dazzling, tasteful and polished, enhancing the mesmerizing quality of the plot. The result is an extraordinary novel that makes fascinating, compulsive reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I have read in a long time, 19 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Glass Palace (Paperback)
A beautifully written story about the interlocking lives of three generations of people from India, Burma and Malaya.It puts into perspective the inter-relationship of the peoples and history of these three nations in the first half of the 20th Century whilst telling an engrossing tale.
The author's use of the English language and his expressive, yet tasteful, style make this a book I will recommend to all my friends and one I will reread often
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written book, 15 Jan. 2003
By 
Alexander Carpenter (Bristol, England, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Glass Palace (Paperback)
This is the best book I have read in months. The prose is elegant and sophisticated, and the characters are described in a subtle, imaginative way. The fact that the book is so long allows the reader to become a part of the story, and become attached to the main characters. I think the fact that the story or people's lives are suddenly changed by coincidence or accident is a good idea, and instils in you the feelings of the characters. Definitely worth a read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The start of new understanding.., 24 Dec. 2009
This review is from: The Glass Palace (Paperback)
Not being an avid reader up until now, this is the second book that I have polished off in about 3 weeks, what drew me to this book was that my dad was serving in Malaya in the 50's..

Ghosh, brings some beautiful imagery together in the lives of 3 generations.

You really see the golden age of Burma decline as the British take over, but as Japan enter the scene the whole atmosphere shifts again.

Not only that but views of some key character shift as they battle with their loyalties and where exactly do the lie in serving their invaders or their home land.

For me something that hit me was in lives of these characters, nothing lasts forever...

Its a tale of 3 generations leaving those that are still alive to make sense of it all
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The Glass Palace
The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh (Hardcover - 3 July 2000)
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