• The Glass Palace

  • By: Amitav Ghosh
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 17 hrs and 53 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (679 ratings)

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The Glass Palace  By  cover art

The Glass Palace

By: Amitav Ghosh
Narrated by: Simon Vance
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Publisher's Summary

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 Burmese Queen, whose love will shape his life. He cannot forget her, and years later, as a rich man, he goes in search of her.

The struggles that have made Burma, India, and Malaya the places they are today are illuminated in this wonderful novel by the writer Chitra Divakaruni calls “a master storyteller.”

©2002 Amitav Ghosh (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Ghosh renders the polite imprisonment of the Burmese royal family in India and the lush, dangerous atmosphere of teak camps in the Burmese forest with fine detail––a perfect balance for the broad strokes of romance and serendipity that drive the story forward." ( The New Yorker)
"Ghosh ranges from the condescension of the British colonialists to the repression of the current Myanmar (Burmese) regime in a style that suggests E. M. Forster as well as James Michener. Highly recommended." ( Library Journal)

What listeners say about The Glass Palace

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    325
  • 4 Stars
    224
  • 3 Stars
    92
  • 2 Stars
    24
  • 1 Stars
    14
Performance
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  • 4 Stars
    143
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    37
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Story
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  • 4 Stars
    167
  • 3 Stars
    67
  • 2 Stars
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  • 1 Stars
    9

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Ty
  • 05-02-10

I struggled to finish... enough said.

I can appreciate the story - young boy grows up during a rough time but ends up becoming very successful, both in his business and personal life. I can even appreciate the author's ability to help you "see" the story. I feel like I got a real sense of how it was in Burma during this time. What I can't appreciate, are some of the long stretches of (seemingly) unnecessary details and conversations. I expect to have loads of details in an unabridged version, but sheesh, those details are usually helpful in telling the story. Not this time; instead I felt like there was a bunch of fluff added in. On top of that, the end read as if the author had gotten tired of writing, but still wanted to cover a 10? 20? 30? year timespan so he just threw it all out there with no clear indication of the year, or the amount of time that had passed. 2.5 stars for the idea of the story, -2.5 stars for making it sooo difficult to finish. (I actually gave up about 5 times).

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful Family Saga Set in Burma and Malaysia

This is a big story written by one of my favorite authors, Amitav Ghosh. He gives the full sweep of history in this region in the 20th century, starting with the end of Burmese royalty, the movement of Indians into the culture of Burma, the horrendous toll of suffering and displacement during WW II, ending with the restrictive political climate of the new "Myanmar". It is told through the intertwined families of the book, a large and intertwined lot. I loved the attention to the characters, and the coming together of many different family connections that span the generations. The characters are quite unique, and the woman are very independent. Ghosh is a great story teller and I would recommend his other books as well. The book's length and detail draw you in, the narrator is very good and brings all the characters alive. It is not a book for someone looking for a fast moving plot, but there is a lot of drama throughout the novel and a fascinating book for a good, long listening experience.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

I found no fun here. Education about Burma, maybe.

In the past several weeks I have devoted about four and a half hours trying to enjoy this book. But, when you are "trying to enjoy" something, what that means is that you are not actually enjoying it at all. Maybe it's cultural, as my wife is fond of saying. You do find yourself rooting for the young Rajkumar, but there is no suspense at all in this story. Clearly he is going to grow up and marry the lovely young Dolly (I am so sure that that is not how to pronounce her name; it's just phonetics). I bought the book because I thought I might learn something about Burma, and because Simon Vance is just a really good narrator. Call me an American, which I certainly am, but the book is not friendly to an American reader, in the way that Tim Hallinan's books, which are about Thailand, certainly are written from the American viewpoint. I love his books, and I am educated as well as being entertained by them. I learn quite a bit about Thailand and about Southeast Asia from them. Tim knows how to hold his audience in the way that Amitav Ghosh does not. This week I realized that I listened to Owen Laukkenan's book "Criminal Enterprise" in its entirety while I was in the middle of struggling through this book. Not a good sign. Maybe you have to be Burmese, although that sentence sounds preposterous to me as I write it. Maybe I should just listen to the hundreds of other audiobooks that I have loved and been entertained by.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Marvelous listening experience

I read the book a few years back and loved it. It is beautifully written, very absorbing, and heartbreaking. This is a great way to re-read the book, or to read it for the first time. Simon Vance is one of the best narrators I've heard, and he does a marvelous job here. A fabulous listen!

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Touchng, Beautiful--and Annoying

The Glass Palace is beautifully written, with wonderfully-drawn characters and many touching moments. However, between Part 1 and Part 2 there was such a quantum leap in time and events that I went back to Audible to make sure that I had downloaded all the parts. There was a gap of 15 years, during which protagonists who were in different countries somehow got together and were married in some unexplained manner that was never clarified. Once I got past this, however, the story continued in a very satisfactory manner, and I am glad I stuck with it. Simon Vance's narration was superb, as always. I highly recommend this book despite its flaws. It is a portrayal of a venue that has not been well-covered in fiction--Burma (now Myanmar) and Malaya from early 20th Century to the 1970s.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A Delicious Escape into the Past

Wow, I cannot remember why I selected this, as I had not read Ghosh before. It has been too enthralling an audiobook to put down! It has remarkable language portraits of India, Burma and Malaya, complete with smells, people, built environments, economics and politics. Sometimes it feels that too many historic events directly affect its players, but the reader is extraordinary and the novel's ability to evoke a place and time is superb.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent

FANTASTIC book! Couldn't stop listening. Now, can't stop thinking about it. I did not find the narrative too long. I would highly recommend this book.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Good one third of a book

The first thirds very good, second third okay. Last third - author gave up any pretense of having a real story and real characters and slipped into thinly-veiled lecture mode. Good performance couldn't save it.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Great historical/cross-cultural story

Where does The Glass Palace rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Upper quadrant.

What was most disappointing about Amitav Ghosh’s story?

Really a family history intertwined with Burmese history rather than a novel of real personal growth or significant challenges.

Which scene was your favorite?

Every scene was told with the same reporter style so it was somewhat difficult to get emotionally caught-up. Overall the story (history) was compelling.

If you could take any character from The Glass Palace out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Simon Vance

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Sweeping Epic or Fictional Memoir?

I expect that Ghosh intended this book to be a Ken Follett-like sweeping story of Burma, India and much of south Asia during the late 19th and early 20th century, but it reads more like a mood piece or memoir with its focus on scenery, social conventions and detailed analysis of family/caste relationships. The plot spans the lives of several families, starting with the deposition of the last Burmese king through the end of the 2nd World War, but isn't really plot driven, or character driven. It's more a series of stream of consciousness depictions of the thoughts of various related characters. The strong suit of this story is the beautiful, detailed description of the thoughts of the varied characters, illustrating the ways in which the misunderstandings between ruler and ruled fueled WW I and II. The author assumes that the listener is clever enough to understand some plot points without his spelling them out. He expects a lot from the reader, but that serves the progression of the book well. Simon Vance is always a great narrator, and does a remarkable job with the numerous dialects and languages.

3 people found this helpful