I finished The Glass Palace by Amtav Ghosh last week. I am sad to say it left me completely underwhelmed. It isn't an awful book; some of it is really quite good. In fact, it begins very promisingly before it starts to deflate. One of the problems with the novel is that it doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up. Is it a family saga? An historical narrative? An expose of the evils of colonization by the British Empire and its effects on South East Asia in general, Burma in particular? It could have been all these things, and it certainly tried, but it never quite gelled into one cohesive story. Missing too was the enthralling storytelling I found in Sea Of Poppies. Ghosh himself seemed to grow tired of the book and the last 100 pages came off as a flurried slap-dash attempt to quickly tie up loose ends. I felt like a dinner guest who was being rushed to the exit the minute I put down my dessert fork. "What's your hurry? Here's the door."
Do publishers employ editors anymore? There are novels in which every word has a place in the story (House of Mirth comes immediately to mind because I am listening to the final chapter on audio book); but, I have found that sloppy editing is my main complaint with novels these days. The Glass Palace could have benefited from the blue pencil had it been used to whittle down this 500 page book into a tight, well-told story of about 350 pages. Certainly, the author is talented enough. As it is, the book suffers from a multiple personality disorder which could have been successfully treated. Although not a complete waste of time, I hate to admit this book was a disappointment.