Dec 8, 2010

Book Review: Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh

Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
Genre: Historical fiction
Paperback, 530 pages
Published May 1st 2008 by John Murray (first published 2008)
Source: Library
Rating: 4 of 5

Comments: My husband listened eagerly to the entire audio book version. That's a pretty good endorsement. He was somewhat disappointed though by the ending, as there were loose ends not tied up. He felt the author didn't quite know what to do with all the myriad characters he created in this awesome historical drama. He'll be glad to know that Sea of Poppies is only the first in the Ibis trilogy, and that the story is not over.

I was intrigued by the myriad accents put on by the eBook reader, Phil Gigante, and by the pidgin and Anglo-Indian words used in 19th century India. Gigante's voice versatility gave color and immediacy to the reading of the novel.

Goodreads book description: "At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast ship, the Ibis. Its destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean; its purpose, to fight China’s vicious nineteenth-century Opium Wars. As for the crew, they are a motley array of sailors and stowaways, coolies and convicts.

In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a diverse cast of Indians and Westerners, from a bankrupt raja to a widowed tribeswoman, from a mulatto American freedman to a free-spirited French orphan. As their old family ties are washed away, they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais, or ship-brothers. An unlikely dynasty is born, which will span continents, races, and generations.

The vast sweep of this historical adventure spans the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, the exotic backstreets of China. But it is the panorama of characters, whose diaspora encapsulates the vexed colonial history of the East itself, that makes Sea of Poppies so breathtakingly alive -- a masterpiece from one of the world’s finest novelists."

The novel  is a Man Booker Prize nominee (2008).

© Harvee Lau 2011


  1. I just adored this book my first introduction to Ghosh! Just loved it.

    My first giveaway is up on my blog. please do enter!

  2. I loved this book also-I hope the second in the trilogy will be out soon-Sea of Poppies reads like a Victorian novel-the scenes in prison are right out of Dickens-I liked your post lot

  3. I really enjoyed this one but it took me a bit of time to get into it. I definitely plan on reading the rest of the trilogy.

  4. Loved your review. This is one I have on my 2010 TBR list and never got too:(

  5. I would love it if my hubby would get into an audio book sometime!! I'm glad you both enjoyed it. I've read other great reviews of this one and have marked it to read at some point in my life!!

  6. I have been thinking about reading this for forever now.
    Thanks for a great review.

  7. I don't read much historical fiction but this is a great review and it sounds like an interesting book.

  8. What a lovely cover. I love your review, and what Mel U says about it seeming Victorian. I think I'll have to pick it up sometime!

  9. The book sounds perfect for its setting and symbolic potential.

  10. This sounds like a very interesting read. Thanks for the review.

  11. Must be an enjoyable read Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and orignal, this book is going in by "to read" list.

  12. Enjoyed reading about the sounds of the audiobook.


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