Rajkumar is a young orphan helping out in a market stall in the dusty square outside the royal palace in Mandalay, when the British force the Burmese King, Queen and court into exile. Haunted by his vision of the Royal Family and one of their attendants, he travels to the obscure town where they have been exiled, and his family and friends become inexorably linked with theirs.
From this humble beginning, an extraordinary story of a century unfolds: in Malaya, amid the vast rubber plantations; in India, amid growing nationalistic fervor; in America, where ideals of democracy, terrorist skills and business acumen could all be learned. By the time World War II arrives, Rajkumar's influence will have spread from the great estate at Morningside and he will see his son become involved in the British collapse in Singapore, and another member of his family take part in the remarkable rebellion of the Indian troops against their British officers.
Many more fascinating stories unfold in the pages of The Glass Palace. There is the formidable Indian widow, Uma, a spearhead of the Indian nationalist movement and a final refuge for the battered remnants of the family as they flee from Burma before the Japanese advance. And there is Rajkumar's granddaughter, who survives the experience and brings readers back to Burma, completing the family saga started so long ago.