Friday, April 09, 2010

Glassy Eyes


I read The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh. It was long and talked about lives of different people and different places. I like the cover design.

The title sounds nice. But I felt it lost its meaning mid way. I felt it could have been done better.

The story starts in Mandalay where Rajkumar works at a small stall on the streets and Dolly takes care of the second princess in the palace. The palace has a chamber full of mirrors and crystal decorations called the Glass Palace.

Rajkumar married Dolly much later in Ratnagiri and takes back to Burma where he owns a timber farm.

They are infinite number of characters, their relations, their children, their deaths, their engagements, and their experiences. Obviously there are a lot of people in this world! There is the world war and then the second and the Japs intrusion and the freedom struggle.

Rajkumar and Dolly’s younger son Dinu puts up a photo studio in Myanmar calling it the Glass Palace wear Jaya, the grandchild of the couple and Dinu’s brother daughter seeks him out to talk to him in order to write the story of Rajkumar or may be Uma (her great aunt).

Thus ends the story.

On point that surprises me is that almost every woman in this book is strikingly beautiful or the most beautiful woman her partner has ever seen. Dolly, Manju, Elsa, Allison, etc.

Somehow I found the book to be pointless at times. It seems like the story doesn’t want to end and hence never ends and finally a weak cloud of climax develops and calls itself the end.

Honestly, the ending would have been different. When Jaya goes to Burma to seek Dinu, I thought she found find Dinu passed away sometime back out of general illness, yet Dolly lives on in what is left of the ruins of the Glass Palace turned into monastery with the walls adorning the glass framed pictures taken by Dinu of everyone and everything that mattered to Dolly in her life before nunnery.

That would have been a more dramatic ending and definitely more reasonable justification for the title.

I don’t feel good criticizing the book though. The author’s note is very touchy. I do not mean to offend him or anybody. I’m just pouring out what I feel about the book.

A good read only if you are bored and stuck with nothing else. Even then, try to do something creative instead.

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