With each generation the characters' lives and personalities contrast and intertwine according to the rise and fall of the countries'--and the world's--politics. Rajkumar, the Indian peasant who makes a fortune through teak and his wife Dolly, the breathtakingly beautiful maid of the Burmese royal family, contrast to Uma the Indian widow who becomes a champion for Indian independence after her liberating time in the USA and the Americanised Matthew who makes a life in his half-native Malaya as a rubber plantation owner, while Uma's Bengali nieces and nephew contrast to Rajkumar and Dolly's newly wealthy sons. Yet they all suffer in the Second World War, whether as a soldier, refugee or evacuee discriminated against because of their skin colour. Ghosh's focus on the war in Burma, from the viewpoint of Indian officers in the British army, who have been imbued through their regimental history to believe in their allegiance to "their" country (i.e. Britain and not India), reveals a side of both world wars that is rarely told. The struggle these British subjects experience, as to whether colonial or fascist masters are better, is not something that shaped the general European knowledge of the Second World War, where "good" and "evil" seemed much clearer.
However, The Glass Palace is not only about war; and the full circle it travels, from one glass palace in the lush and rich 19th-century Burma to another glass palace in repressed and impoverished Myanmar is, seemingly with ease from the lush and rich prose, satisfying and informative. It is a novel in which the characters will always go on living, and whose ideals will never die. --Olivia Dickinson
--J. M. Coetzee "There is no denying Ghosh's command of culture and history....[He] proves a writer of supreme skill and intelligence."
--The Atlantic Monthly "I will never forget the young and old Rajkumar, Dolly, the Princesses, the forests of teak, the wealth that made families and wars. A wonderful novel. An incredible story."
--Grace Paley "A rich, layered epic that probes the meaning of identity and homeland-- a literary territory that is as resonant now, in our globalized culture, as it was when the sun never set on the British Empire."
--Los Angeles Times Book Review "A novelist of dazzling ingenuity."
--San Francisco Chronicle