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The Glass Palace

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  25,008 ratings  ·  1,884 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
Paperback, 486 pages
Published February 12th 2002 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2000)
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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)
Gwen I too recommend Singapore Grip - I wrote a Good Reads review if you're interested. …moreI too recommend Singapore Grip - I wrote a Good Reads review if you're interested. (less)

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Ahmad Sharabiani
The Glass Palace, Amitav ‎Ghosh‬

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta in 1956. He studied in Dehra Dun, New Delhi, Alexandria and Oxford and his first job was at the Indian Express newspaper in New Delhi. He earned a doctorate at Oxford before he wrote his first novel, which was published in 1986.

The Glass Palace is a 2000 historical novel by Indian writer Amitav Ghosh. The novel is set in Burma, Bengal, India, and Malaya, spans a century from the fall of the Konbaung Dynasty in Mandalay, through th
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
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
May 07, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Amitav Ghosh tells the story of a family and the tumultuous history of Burma (Myanmar). Burma is a country ravaged by war for more than fifty years, which only became a delicate new democracy in 2015. Beautiful people in The Golden Land, live amidst the most scenic places on earth. It's teak forests, gold, rubber, and other natural resources formed part of the colonial land grabbing in the 1800s, having Britain as their ruler for more than 100 years. Kipling's visit to Rangoon in Burma, inspired ...more
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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!! ...more
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
Petra is kind of being stalked & is frightened
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
Dec 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Inderjit Sanghera
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
‘The Glass Palace’ is a story which grows on the reader; gradually the characters, who at first seem like well-constructed caricatures, begin to resonate, their lives, passions, trials and tribulations draw the reader in, as they become increasingly invested in the exploration of the history three generations of a Indo-Burmese family.

The story begins in the final days of pre-colonial Burma, as the enterprising young orphan Rajkumar begins his rise to wealth-that this rise is largely based on exp
Sep 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Майя Ставитская
Feb 24, 2022 rated it really liked it
After the "Sea of Poppies" it was impossible to just stop reading Amitav Gosh. While waiting for the continuation of the "Ibis Trilogy" to be available, I took this Burmese novel in an amateur, but quite good translation. And I didn't regret it. The impression of the book is very worthy.

The epic scope, power and filigree plot of the trilogy, the first novel of which will be written eight years later, is not yet epic, but the hand of the master is visible in everything. "The Glass Palace" is a fa
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
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

This is the story about Burma from the British colonisation till the years after WWII and some hints to modern times. But it is also the story about the exile of the last Burmese king and his family and their life in India; it is the story of the British colonisation of Burma but with some hints also to its colonisation in India and Malaysia; it is the story of Rajkumar, an Indian orphan that lives and works in Burma, of his family and several good friends of him and his wife. Reading this bo
Oct 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: india, burma, malaysia
Why the hell wasn’t this a Booker Prize winner? I fell into this Epic epic completely. Food? Drink? Nah, I’ve got to keep reading; something more important is going on in Mandalay! In Ratnagiri! In Sungei Pattani!
The Glass Palace is the finest historical novel I’ve read since Birds without Wings in 2005. The characters are complete, their evolution is authentic and sometimes heartbreaking; the history spans from the end of the 19th C to the end of the 20th: Burma, India, Malaya.

A few moments:
Mar 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This pageant of history reminds me of James Michener's sagas. It traces over 100 years spanning colonialism, the end of the Burmese monarchy, two wars and the ultimate implantation of a police state in Burma through the fictional stories of people bound together by business, marriage and friendship.

There are several protagonists, each involved in and affected by the events of their respective times. Through them, Ghosh draws a picture that helps readers like me, who have little knowledge of this
Jun 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Roger Brunyate
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Jesse Field
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
“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
Jan 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
“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.”
― Amitav Ghosh, The Glass Palace
Although in 2020 when I added this book to my Goodreads I couldn't remember this book at all - the whole British colonial days in the East theme of this historical fiction, sounds a lot like my type of read. A not too bad 6.5 out of 12 was given by me back in 2007, so I'd say it's worth a read.
Mal Warwick
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: trade-fiction
The brilliant Indian author Amitav Ghosh is one of India's greatest gifts to readers the world over. His deeply affecting historical novels relate the history of South Asia in fascinating detail, reflecting years of intensive research, both on-site and archival. Anchored securely in time and place, Ghosh's characters virtually leap off the page. They're hard to forget.

The Glass Palace is a case in point. The novel sprawls across more than a century of Burma's history, from the British invasion o
The story spans for over sixty years. Through the story of Rajkumar, his children and grandchild, the history of India and Burma comes alive involving the British invasion and natives fight for independence.

The story begins in 1885 with British invasion of Burma over teak wood.

Eleven year old Rajkumar works on a boat which takes him from India to the city of Mandalay in Burma. He is sent to a lady named Ma Cho, who is half-Indian and owns a food stall. Her stall is close to the walls of the for
Oct 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
George Ilsley
This novel has everything a reader could ask for: the sweep of history and full of gorgeous detail.

It even explains the origins of the White Elephant — an actual rare white elephant gifted to the exiled King of Burma.

This author is consistently most interesting.
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Like a tapestry of colours and evocative settings, the sights and sounds of Burma bring the history of the country and its people to life.

From the rubber estates in Malaya, Burma, the colonies in India and the British Invasion of Burma -from 1870 to WW2 makes for an epic read and a historical lesson of a remarkable time period.

Heavily detailed and evocative, this is a read which teaches you a lot about the time and place of the countries involved. the danger and the tensions of all involved is
Dec 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
As is the case with Ghosh's Ibis trilogy, Glass Palace is full of historical anecdotes, well researched details and not a lot of plot. I enjoy reading his books with a certain level of detachment because the characters take a back step in narration as Ghosh glosses over the plot and write more about history. This isn't necessarily bad especially when the subject matter is new. But it does made me wonder if I could have as well read Burmese history. I was aware of the Japanese invasion of Malaysi ...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
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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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“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.” 33 likes
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