Helynne's Reviews > The Glass Palace

The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh
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's review
Jul 02, 2009

really liked it
Read in June, 2002

I lived in Burma and traveled to Thailand as a young child, so I picked up this novel, hoping it would bring back some nostalgic memories of Burma (now Myanmar), its people and culture. It certainly did. This book is rich with ethnic and cultural descriptions such as the teak forests where elephants work along with humans to fell and transport the beautiful wood that will be made into furniture and artifacts. The story begins during the British colonial period in 1885, and follows several generations of families up through the late 20th century in Burma, India, and Malaysia. The title refers to the palace of the royal Burmese family that was ousted in the late 19th century from its royal residence by British soldiers, and forced to flee. One of the palace's servant girls, Dolly, was once admired by a poor, peasant boy. When that boy grows up and gets rich from the teak business, he comes back to find Dolly, and their family goes on through generations of social and political upheaval and chaos. The story is quite an epic and reveals a lot of cultural richness from an area about which most of us know little or have forgotten much.
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