Vivid and compelling in its portrait of one woman’s struggle for fulfillment in a society pivoting between the traditional and the modern, The Henna Artist opens a door into a world that is at once lush and fascinating, stark and cruel.
Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist—and confidante—to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…
Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow—a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does.
No. of pages:- 317 pages
Published:- March 3rd 2020
Genre:- Women’s Fiction
The Henna Artist is one of the books that I have wanted to read for a long time and was finally glad when I got the chance to listen to the audiobook. The story is set during the 1950’s, in a colorful and vibrant city called Jaipur, Rajasthan, where a seventeen-year-old Lakshmi, after escaping from an abusive marriage, works as a henna artist and helping women with their “problems”, with a wide knowledge of herbal medicines. She mainly works for the elite ladies of Jaipur and has already established her name. However, she gets an unexpected visit–her ex husband, Hari brings a thirteen year old girl named Radha, who is Lakshmi’s younger sister. With the arrival of her sister, Lakshmi’s life starts to change drastically.
This story is realistic in so many ways that I have to give kudos to the author for doing so much research about the life of India during the 1950’s–the vast differences between the rich and poverty–how rich spend their summers in Europe and poor people remain fretting about money and loans (like Lakshmi), caste issues and of course various ideals and culture. If you read this book, as a reader, you would feel like you are in India in the city of Jaipur, experiencing the culture and traditions and going through the emotions and story with the main character, Lakshmi. The story is mainly told from the perspectives of Lakshmi and you would be surprised at the age of seventeen, how matured she sounds though she had taken rash decision that impacted on her relationship with her parents and her ex husband as well as her sister. The characters in the book are complex and realistic–both Lakshmi and her sister Radha are favorable characters, their emotions and feelings seem to be real in the book. Vividly, by reading through this book, I feel as if I was a part of the story and so the author–as well as the narrator did a good job drawing the reader to the story!
Overall, I give this book five stars–emotional, heartbreaking and you will never be able to put this book down–I devoured from the first chapter to the end!
This is the first book of the Jaipur triology and I am currently reading the second book, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur, which is the second book of the series–so stay tuned for the review!
lka Joshi was born in the desert state of Rajasthan in India. In 1967, her family immigrated to America. She earned a BA from Stanford University and an MFA from California College of Arts in San Francisco. Prior to writing The Henna Artist, Alka ran an advertising and marketing agency for 30 years. She has spent time in France and Italy and currently lives with her husband on the Northern California Coast.
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