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The Glass Palace

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  15,975 Ratings  ·  1,136 Reviews
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 B ...more
552 pages
Published 2000 by HarperCollins
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Claire Sexton I have nearly finished the book and am loving every minute. I did not think I would as it is not the type of book I would pick for myself but so glad…moreI have nearly finished the book and am loving every minute. I did not think I would as it is not the type of book I would pick for myself but so glad my book group chose it. (less)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Yes. This is why I read historical fiction.

Amitav Ghosh devoted five years of his life to the travel, research, and writing required to tell this story. It follows the mingled fates of three families and three countries--Burma, India, and Malaya, from 1885 through the mid-1990s. The story begins with the British takeover of the kingdom of Burma as its king and queen are exiled to a remote compound in India. Through the lives of the orphan Rajkumar, his mentor Saya John, the girl Dolly, and her
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Praj
May 19, 2011 Praj rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
During my pre-vegetarian days, I used to find solace in a warm, juicy scrumptious steak n’ cheese sandwich washed down by a chilled Heineken. Especially, if the gooey cheese was a blend of Munster, Monterey jack and yellow cheddar; the bread not too soggy but aptly moisten by the beef gravy. It is pure bliss. On the other hand, a classier version for $150 is layered with buttered lobsters, black truffles and caviar. Now, why would someone mess up such a meticulous appetizing combination? Stop! D ...more
Lauren
Dec 26, 2007 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
The first person I recommended this book to was an English professor, who said she was immediately "transfixed." Undoubtedly Amitav Ghosh's masterpiece (his other novels do not even compare), The Glass Palace is an epic that takes place over three generations of a multi-ethnic and multi-class families in Southeast Asia. Ghosh sets the novel in the Bengal region, which straddles modern-day borders of India, Bangladesh, Burma, and Malaysia, demonstrating how the porous nature of these cultures mak ...more
Erwin
Wow! I have just finished one of my new favourite books! And I believe I will hit the "become a fan" button on Ghosh's page here on Goodreads after I finish this! (I loved Sea of Poppies and River of Smoke too) This book was a fantastic ride through part of South East Asia's history! A fascinating family drama that never bored. Well-written and a sad but also touching end. Well Done!!
K
Most of the historical fiction books I've read have tried to do three things -- evoke a sense of time and place, depict historical events through the eyes of their characters, and last (and often least, unfortunately, even though this is ostensibly the reason to read a novel in the first place), create multifaceted characters who are experiencing their own growth, development, and plot. The best historical fiction books I've read integrated all three of these goals into a smooth and readable nar ...more
jordan
Sep 10, 2009 jordan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What exactly can one say about “The Glass Palace?” Amitav Ghosh, with his lyrical prose, intricate characters, and extraordinary gift for research, never ceases to amaze. How many other writers could offer a work of such sweep -- following an extended family’s triumphs and travails through 115 years of Burmese history – enwrapping the reader in each moment and personality so completely that you find yourself holding your breath?

If you consider yourself reasonably well educated and have only thou
...more
Mommalibrarian
This book is epic in length and covers three generations of Indians in the countries of Malaya and Burma (Myanmar) from 1885 until the end of the twentieth century. This is a very large scope and it is covered by disconnected chapters that are almost standalone essays. A few are strongly written - the torn loyalties of the Indian soldier when faced with continuing to serve a British master as part of the empire or switching to the Japanese side to drive the British out. Some of the essay / chapt ...more
Petra X
May 05, 2015 Petra X rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
If you like sagas, this was a good one, but in common with a lot of sagas is the large cast of characters. Although I do rate Amitav Ghosh as a writer with great ability to draw characters, this time by the end of the book I couldn't keep straight who was who and what relationship they had to each other. Often the people I was most interested in, just featured in a small bit of the book and after that heard from only in passing.

After a long gap of years, I have only recently resumed reading ligh
...more
Elaine
Sep 02, 2014 Elaine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-finished
Time to admit that this is not getting finished. Despite being in Mandalay when I started it, I found that this book, which is rather too abrupt in jumping from decade to decade and generation to generation, also dragged and failed to engage. I feel like Ghosh is a writer with flashes of a brilliance I could love who too often gets tangled up in his need to instruct, to fill in the deplorable gaps in our understanding of colonialism and Southeast Asia. I feel his pain at the reader's ignorance, ...more
Coleccionista  de finales tristes
Novela histórica de Amitav Ghosh

Es la historia de la ocupación británica en Birmania y el destierro de los reyes a la India británica, narrado por un niño indio de 12 años, Rajkumar. Sin embargo no solo conoceremos el punto de vista del niño sino también el de otros personajes así como el de los propios reyes. Pero si bien ese es el inicio y eje central de la novela, esta abarca en sus más de 1000 páginas mucho mas: llega hasta la Segunda Guerra Mundial, guerra en la que los indios combatían en
...more
Girish
Nov 13, 2014 Girish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ghosh's Glass Palace is an achievement - no doubt! This is a Historical fiction pivoted around milestones with a few real characters spanning countries and 3 generations.

The first part of the King of Burma's exile and the subsequent life in India could easily be mistaken for work of fiction. Except they were real and the author has taken pains to weave them as the backdrop for the first generation of the Rajkumar family tree.

The next generation story unfolds like a mega serial up till the war w
...more
Laura
Feb 26, 2011 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all Ghosh fans
Page 107:
May I remind Your Highness that while Alexander the GReat spent no more than a few months in the steppes of Central Asia, the satrapies he founded persisted for centuries afterward) Britain's Empire is, by contrast, already more than a century old, and you may be certain, Your Highness, that its influence will persist for centuries more to come.

Page 292
There were quotations from Mahatma Gandhi and a passage that said: "Why should India, in the name of freedom, come to the defence of thi
...more
Pam Geemul
Mar 13, 2013 Pam Geemul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just loved the book! The storyline is such that i finished the book within two days and was quite bummed when i reached the end. Spanning over three generations, the book is all about the fall of the last king of Burma to World War II, and its heartrending effects on humankind. Reading about the ravages of WWII and consequences of same on the psyche of the soldiers especially,was quite revealing and one can only imagine how hard(to say the least) it must have been to be a part of it all. There ...more
Renata
This has become one of my top favorite works of historical fiction. Love the writing and everything else about the telling of the broad history of Burma (today's Myanmar ) which he masterfully connects to colonialism. I will reread at some point.
Trelawn
Aug 01, 2016 Trelawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge-2016
This was a truly epic read. It charts the lives of three generations of a Burmese-Indian family. It begins in Mandalay with the invasion of the British and the exile of the Burmese royal family to Ratnagiri. Their prolonged exile provides the backdrop for the forging of many personal relationships that continue throughout the book. World wars one and two feature in so much as we see the participation of the British-Indian army in the fighting and also how the demand for teak and rubber make some ...more
Jeanette
There is a hidden pit I could fall into when writing this reaction. There is dire chance I could go long and detailed. Yes, I could make this one off-putting for the 3 star conclusion. Myself doing a partial synopsis? Or even worse- trying to parse ALL the good points from the multitudes of poorer?

Within the breadth of the topics of subject matters and depth of characters here in this book! That would be far longer print copy than I would want to approach. I'm being truthful.

So here goes, and I
...more
Chana
An exhausting read, it is dense with history. If a story can be very intense and boring at the same time, then this book is it. I think this is because the story is secondary to the history. Historical fiction is often a story written in an historical context. This is history written through the vehicle of a fictional story. Everything in this story is created to tell the history of Burma (Myanmar). I felt emotionally connected to the story because the author is, his love for the country and the ...more
Jesse Field
“But you could come to Singapore with us first; you could probably get a ship there. It might even be easier.’
Dinu paused to think. ‘You may be right. Yes . . . I’ll come.’
She reached for his hands. ‘I don’t think I could bear to go without you. Especially now.’
‘Why now?’
She dug into his chest with her forehead. ‘Because I think I’m in love with you, Dinu—or something like that at any rate. I didn’t know it before, but I know it now.’
He pulled her closer. He did not care what had happened betwee
...more
CadyCan
Borrowed from Jane, Dummer Book Club read.

This book took ages to read (approx 2months), largely due to move etc. but also because there was nothing in it that grabbed me & compelled me to read on. It's an easy book to put down & I can understand why some people in Dummer book club gave up on it. The names are hard to follow for two reasons: 1. they're foreign to me 2. There are many many characters.

Thoughts on book changed as I read it. Started off thinking it's going to be a gripping hi
...more
Appu Shaji
Nov 30, 2010 Appu Shaji rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Glass Palace is indeed history masqueraded as finely crafted fiction, and politics discussed is ever relevant. At its core, the Glass Palace is the story of ordinary people's life being taken over by politics and drowning them into insignificance.

What I found mostly remarkable is how the build-up of each character is paced, with often illustrious and heavy detailing during the first and middle part of their stories, however their exit from the book is mostly tapered, and seems sometimes even
...more
Palmyrah
Amitav Ghosh has been a favourite of mine ever since I picked up The Calcutta Chromosome in a Singapore bookshop many years ago. This is the first book of his that has disappointed me.

It begins well, with the story of two unrelated orphans who survive the British invasion of Burma and the deposition of King Thebaw. One is a servant-girl at the royal court; the other is a Bengali street boy. Many years later, in India, they marry. The first part of the story, which tells of their adventures and e
...more
aswin
Nov 02, 2012 aswin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Ghosh weaves the lives of characters spanning three generations as they try to rearrange their personal lives around a world that is quite beyond their control. The novel is set mostly in 19th and 20th century Burma and India (US and other parts of South East Asia also play roles), but you could read through its characters the many conflicting tugs of the colonial condition in general. The novel starts out as a slow read but as the second generation of characters start to grow up and the pace of ...more
Ayushi
Apr 05, 2011 Ayushi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The Intellectually inclined or people who enjoy 'readable not-complex' literature
Recommended to Ayushi by: My English teacher
I love Amitav Ghosh, he is my favourite novelist currently. The Glass Place is one of my favourite books of his. It is a sweeping epic that starts from the eviction of the Royal family in Burma where a urchin witnesses the royalty being indignantly thrown out and resolutely falls in love with one of the helpers who comes to India with the king and the Queen and the 3 princessses.The books explores their life there as normal people there and the hardships they go through . It shifts to the Planta ...more
Roger Brunyate
Jul 18, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A Confluence of History and Romance

With its 470 close-printed pages and 111-year time-span, Amitav Ghosh's The Glass Palace is a novel of immense scope. Unlike most long novels or multi-generational family epics, this one held me interested throughout, largely because whenever Ghosh allowed the tension to drop as a novelist, he picked it up as an historian. Indeed, for much of the book, I felt I was reading a non-fiction history of Burma, India, and Malaya, told through the lives of characters w
...more
Debbie
Dec 01, 2011 Debbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wondeful epic story of a family in the 1800s to 1990s. Also of Burma and India in a troubles time in history.I actually learned stuff!The author manages to tell a sweeping tale with epic historical themes and yet also personsl and full of compassion for the individual struggles of the people. I really love his descriptions of charactors. I could truely see the in my mind yet he only usea FEW PERFECT PHRASES. I will read more by the author. Reading him is a wonderful satisfying experitnce.
Manu Prasad
Oct 30, 2014 Manu Prasad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review
Where do I begin? Let's start with stating the simple - I loved this book. I haven't read such a poignantly moving book in quite a while!
With that out of the way, the story actually begins in Mandalay (Burma) in 1885, during the last days of the Konbaung Dynasty. The British forcibly depose the Burmese King Thebaw, his queen Supayalat and their daughters from “The Glass Palace,” so named for the large central hall which had crystal walls and mirrored ceilings. As looters raid the palace, Rajkuma
...more
Jan Colle
Sep 10, 2014 Jan Colle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everything I love. Beautifully written. Well researched. Wonderful story. And you feel transported into a different time and place in a way which few can achieve.
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I have such mixed feelings with this one. Parts of it is beautifully written, parts of it is a slog (for me). It is a sweeping history of Burma (even though much of it takes place in India and Malaya) from the time of the British conquest in 1885 to nearly the time of publication. Most of the book takes place in the first half of the 20th Century. It is the story of two people caught up in that conquest of 1885 and their extended families.

While I was reading, I wanted more story and less histor
...more
Joyce Lagow
Apr 20, 2010 Joyce Lagow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Covering the period of time between the mid-19th century to the present, set mostly in Burma, The Glass Palace is a story of two Indian/Burmese families over a period of generations during times of vast political and social changes in Burma. It is a fascinating account of the large Indian migration to Burma in the 19th and early 20th centuries, first to harvest teak, then to work the rubber plantations. The Indians imported into Burma--and imported is a euphemism for economic slavery--were mostl ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
What the blurb led me to expect: A book about Burma in the late 19th century, starring a boy/young man named Rajkumar.

What the book actually is: An epic family saga beginning in 1885 and ending in 1996, set in Burma/Myanmar, India, and Malaysia, starring a whole bunch of people.

Fortunately, I like epic family sagas starring a whole bunch of people. I was pleased to find that, far from just being Rajkumar’s love interest as the blurb would indicate, Dolly is a protagonist in her own right (arguab
...more
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  • A Golden Age
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  • The Great Indian Novel
  • Such a Long Journey
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Amitav Ghosh is one of India's best-known writers. His books include The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, Incendiary Circumstances, The Hungry Tide. His most recent novel, Sea of Poppies, is the first volume of the Ibis Trilogy.

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta in 1956. He studied in Dehra Dun, New Delhi, Alexan
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More about Amitav Ghosh...

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“What would it be like if I had something to defend - a home, a country, a family - and I found myself attacked by these ghostly men, these trusting boys? How do you fight an enemy who fights with neither enmity nor anger but in submission to orders from superiors, without protest and without conscience?” 45 likes
“To use the past to justify the present is bad enough—but it’s just as bad to use the present to justify the past.” 24 likes
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