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In New York Times bestselling author Alka Joshi’s intriguing new novel, henna artist Lakshmi arranges for her protégé, Malik, to intern at the Jaipur Palace in this tale rich in character, atmosphere, and lavish storytelling.
It’s the spring of 1969, and Lakshmi, now married to Dr. Jay Kumar, directs the Healing Garden in Shimla. Malik has finished his private school education. At twenty, he has just met a young woman named Nimmi when he leaves to apprentice at the Facilities Office of the Jaipur Royal Palace. Their latest project: a state-of-the-art cinema.
Malik soon finds that not much has changed as he navigates the Pink City of his childhood. Power and money still move seamlessly among the wealthy class, and favors flow from Jaipur’s Royal Palace, but only if certain secrets remain buried. When the cinema’s balcony tragically collapses on opening night, blame is placed where it is convenient. But Malik suspects something far darker and sets out to uncover the truth. As a former street child, he always knew to keep his own counsel; it’s a lesson that will serve him as he untangles a web of lies.
No. of pages:- 309 pages
Date published:- June 22nd 2021
Genre:- Historical Fiction/Women’s Fiction
This is the second book of the Jaipur trilogy by Alka Joshi, the first Henna Artist. This story takes place, twelve years after the events that took place in Henna Artist. The story takes place of course in Jaipur and as well as Shimla, where now Lakshmi is living with her new husband, Jay Kumar, a doctor.
Twelve years after Lakshmi leaves Jaipur with Malik and her sister Radha, she is married to Jay Kumar and is living in Shimla, tending a healing garden and helping her husband with the clinic. Radha gets married to a French man and moves to France, wanting to forget about the past, particularly about Nikhil, the son Radha gave birth to, now adopted by Kanta and Manu Agarwal. Malik is in love with a tribal girl named Nimmi who has two children, Rekha and Challoo from her previous marriage. Then Lakshmi sends Malik to Jaipur where Malik under Manu Agarwal works in Singh-Sharma architectural firm, where they are going to build a beautiful cinema complex in Jaipur. Then on the night of the grand opening, the balcony collapses, killing some people and injuring many. Manu is threatened to be thrown out of the company while the real people, who are responsible for the collapse wanted to get away. Meanwhile, Lakshmi back in Shimla finds an illegal gold trade happening around Chandigarh area to the Shimla.
I must say, from the beginning to the end, I was literally drawn into the story. The story is told from the perspectives of Malik, Nimmi and Lakshmi so we would know what each of them thinks about one another–about Malik’s stay in Jaipur and Nimmi’s relationship with Lakshmi. Since I listened to the audiobook, the narrators did a good job! The writing was great, making the reader feel like they are in Jaipur and Shimla. I also like getting to know some culture and tradition and the way of like when reading through Nimmi’s perspectives. Also, I have to say, the story is realistic, despite the fact that it’s fictional. As a Sri Lankan, where our country’s culture is a bit similar to India, I am not surprised when reading this book how rich can get away with anything by bribing and that it was the hardworking and poor people who get caught in the middle. The author did a good job, highlighting the corruptions in the system and the illegal smuggling of gold which is realistic. The characters in the book are likable particularly Malik and his love for Nimmi, although I thought his obsession with Sheela’s naked body was irrelevant in the book. Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading this book and felt like I was a part of the story with me in Jaipur and Shimla.
Overall, I give this book five stars and cannot wait for the third book to come!
Alka 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.
More at: https://www.instagram.com/thealkajoshi/