The Henna Artist
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.

The Henna Artist Details

TitleThe Henna Artist
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 3rd, 2020
PublisherMira Books
ISBN-139780778310204
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Cultural, India, Audiobook

The Henna Artist Review

  • Katie B
    January 1, 1970
    I don't get the opportunity to travel much anymore so I kinda have to rely on books to take me to places I might not get the chance to ever visit. I've read a few fiction books with India as the setting and what first caught my interest about this one is it takes place in the 1950s. The author did a phenomenal job in making me feel like I was transported to this time and country and the main character, Lakshmi, is someone worth getting to know in my opinion. Very glad I got the chance to read th I don't get the opportunity to travel much anymore so I kinda have to rely on books to take me to places I might not get the chance to ever visit. I've read a few fiction books with India as the setting and what first caught my interest about this one is it takes place in the 1950s. The author did a phenomenal job in making me feel like I was transported to this time and country and the main character, Lakshmi, is someone worth getting to know in my opinion. Very glad I got the chance to read this one.At the age of seventeen, Lakshmi escaped her abusive marriage and headed to the city of Jaipur. She's worked hard as a henna artist for quite a few years. She's developed quite the reputation among her wealthy clients with her artistry and has managed to scrimp and save enough money to own a home. Work still needs to be completed on the house and that means Lakshmi must keep on working to pay off her debts. Her husband tracks Lakshmi down and brings with him quite the surprise, Radha, a thirteen year old girl who is the sister Lakshmi never knew she had. The new and better life Lakshmi worked so hard for threatens to come crashing down with this new development.First of all, I admit I was a bit worried when I started the book and saw there was a section for the cast of characters. Usually that indicates there are going to be so many characters it can be confusing to the reader and therefore you need a cheat sheet. However, other than a few names here and there, I didn't even find myself flipping back and forth as it was pretty easy to keep everyone straight in my mind. On a related note, the glossary of terms in the back for different Indian words and phrases was pretty helpful. Within the story, italics were used for the different words that appeared in the glossary. Lakshmi is one of the more stronger female characters I have come across in my reading recently. I thought she was a character who was very easy to root for and I felt bad when it seemed like so many things beyond her control were causing problems in her life. I thought Lakshmi's non-henna work enhanced an already rich and layered story. There's so much here for a book club discussion as you have such things as the different social classes in India, differences in Western medicine and herbal remedies, women's roles in society in 1950s India, etc.. I really hope this book finds a large audience as I found it to be a worthwhile read. I won a free advance copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway but was under no obligation to post a review. All views expressed are my honest opinion.
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  • Faith
    January 1, 1970
    I love it when a book introduces me to something new and teaches me something. I had never given any thought to the people who create the elaborate henna drawings on the hands and feet of an Indian woman for ceremonial occasions. This book is set in 1950s India and introduced me to Lakshmi who was a henna artist. Lakshmi had been forced to marry when she was 15. Her mother in law was a healer and she taught Lakshmi about folk cures and the properties of various herbs. After Lakshmi left her husb I love it when a book introduces me to something new and teaches me something. I had never given any thought to the people who create the elaborate henna drawings on the hands and feet of an Indian woman for ceremonial occasions. This book is set in 1950s India and introduced me to Lakshmi who was a henna artist. Lakshmi had been forced to marry when she was 15. Her mother in law was a healer and she taught Lakshmi about folk cures and the properties of various herbs. After Lakshmi left her husband she established herself as a henna artist for wealthy women. The job included much more than painting, she was also part therapist/part masseuse and she provided herbal remedies including one that caused abortions. She was an independent woman who managed to save enough money to build her own house, until her younger sister appeared on her doorstep and changed both of their lives. The details of the lives of these women, and the societal restrictions that they faced, were fascinating. The writing was very clear and contained. I was pleased to find that it did not have an obligatory romance. This is the author’s first book and I’d be happy to read her next one. 4.5 stars
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  • Berit☀️✨
    January 1, 1970
    Alka Joshi brings 1950s India to life with her lush and vivid writing. If you are someone like me who enjoys learning about other cultures and traveling to places you might never go, this is a can’t miss. The interesting well drawn characters and the captivating storytelling completely drew me into this clever tale. Sneha Mathan masterfully narrated this audiobook, really bringing a voice and an additional layer to this incredible story. With a book like this it is nice to have the audiobook bec Alka Joshi brings 1950s India to life with her lush and vivid writing. If you are someone like me who enjoys learning about other cultures and traveling to places you might never go, this is a can’t miss. The interesting well drawn characters and the captivating storytelling completely drew me into this clever tale. Sneha Mathan masterfully narrated this audiobook, really bringing a voice and an additional layer to this incredible story. With a book like this it is nice to have the audiobook because then you know how things are pronounced, however you don’t always know how things are spelled. There is a PDF that accompanies the audiobook that includes a list of the characters and a glossary. This made me a little nervous that there needed to be a character list, but I have to say I never needed to refer to it I never was confused. 1950s India 17-year-old Lakshmi escapes her abusive marriage and heads to Jaipur. In Jaipur Lakshmi establishes herself as a successful henna artist as well as a procurer of herbal remedies. She has even realize her dream of owning her own home, then her pass catches back up with her. Her estranged husband shows up with her 13-year-old sister Radha, A sister she did not even know she had. What ensues is a compelling tale of family, tradition, secrecy, revenge, and second chances. Loved this book! Lakshmi was such an easy character to get behind. She was so strong, so smart, and so deserving. Her sister Radha on the other hand really frustrated me, I had to remind myself that she was just a teenager at times. There were many other extremely well drawn secondary characters some who I loved and some who I did not. I also found the herbal medicine in this book super fascinating and I liked how they combined it with traditional medicine in the story. This is one of those books that gives you a lot to think about. Filled with colorful characters and beautifully told this is a story that I will not soon forget.This book in emojis: 🇮🇳 🖌 💰 🦜 🛺 🚂 🏔 🏥 *** Big thank you to Harlequin & Harper Audio for my gifted copy of this book. All opinions are my own. ***
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  • Marialyce
    January 1, 1970
    I am starting to think that the best way for me to enjoy a book is to go into it somewhat blind, for that is exactly what I did with this book.Books that show how women of an earlier time made their way in what was a patriarchal world always make me realize the progress we have made in the direction of equality. Granted there is still a long road to travel, but we will get there. At any rate, this story's setting is in India in the 1950s, right after the Raj has given up main control of the coun I am starting to think that the best way for me to enjoy a book is to go into it somewhat blind, for that is exactly what I did with this book.Books that show how women of an earlier time made their way in what was a patriarchal world always make me realize the progress we have made in the direction of equality. Granted there is still a long road to travel, but we will get there. At any rate, this story's setting is in India in the 1950s, right after the Raj has given up main control of the country. We meet a wonderfully endearing woman, who is strong and resilient. Lakshmi, was seventeen when she left her village determined to escape from an abusive husband and make her way in the world. She is goal oriented, success and money drive her forward. She, with the help of influential and wealthy Indian man, build a career that brings her into the homes and the confidences of the entitled and rich women of India. She learns their secrets but holds her own close to her heart.Then as life seems to be turning in her favor, her husband reappears bearing a young girl who is Lakshami's young sister, a sister she never knew of. Times change for Lakshami as she learns that being a sister to a young teenager is both challenging and a rebirth of sorts. As life intervenes in Lakshami's dream, she begins a journey that awakens her to the true meaning of a life well lead.Wonderfully told, with the beautiful culture, sights, and smells of India, this story is easy to read and its allure is in telling a story that says that no matter which way life turns, it can bring you to a place where you will find the happiness you have been seeking all along. Incidentally, at the end Ms Joshi tells the reader of the way that henna is made as well as including some recipes for dishes she spoke of in the story.
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  • Alex Black
    January 1, 1970
    This whole book felt a little surface level. As much as I was curious about the story and where it would go, I never cared about the characters or felt invested in their lives. I always wanted more from the story and it felt liked it only scratched the surface of the emotions it could have had.My favorite part of the story was Lakshmi's job, her role as Henna artist and abortionist, and how she helped people. I loved seeing the insight into the lives of the rich and how her Henna helped them as This whole book felt a little surface level. As much as I was curious about the story and where it would go, I never cared about the characters or felt invested in their lives. I always wanted more from the story and it felt liked it only scratched the surface of the emotions it could have had.My favorite part of the story was Lakshmi's job, her role as Henna artist and abortionist, and how she helped people. I loved seeing the insight into the lives of the rich and how her Henna helped them as well as the poor and desperate and the different remedies she had. It was a fascinating look at Indian society in the 50s and the relationship between her and her clients was very well done.But the story seemed like it drifted away from that quite a bit. Instead of delving deeply into Lakshmi's career, her relationships, or her younger sister's troubles, it felt like the book hit on every point briefly, just long enough to explain the issue without giving time to explore it. I think part of that was because of how fast paced the book was. It covers a whole year in just under 350 pages, and there aren't any large time jumps. It just sort of skims the trials and tribulations of their lives. We don't actually get to see any of the characters' development, the easiest example being Radha, Lakshmi's younger sister. She shows up in the beginning as a village girl who's never left home, but at some point becomes confident in the city and rebellious against her sister. When did this happen? I have no idea. We didn't get to see any growth or change apart from Lakshmi giving her a list of instructions on how to act.I didn't dislike this book, but I really did find myself struggling to care. I felt so distant from these characters and their lives. Nothing about this book hit me emotionally. Even when things got difficult for these characters, as they nearly always do, it felt almost clinical.Overall, interesting story in theory and there was enough I enjoyed about the culture of the time to make it worthwhile, but it's not a book I'll be excitedly pushing on others. If it sounds interesting to you, I'd recommend picking it up, but I didn't think it was anything spectacular.
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  • DeAnn
    January 1, 1970
    4 transport me to India starsThis one completely absorbed me and took me to 1950s India with rich and colorful descriptions of the sights and sounds. We meet Lakshmi, the Henna Artist of Jaipur. She’s built an amazing business for herself and is even having her dream house built. She’s sought after by all the ladies in town and might even get an invitation to the royal palace. She has an herbal medicine business on the side as well. This was a fascinating side story as most of these herbs were v 4 transport me to India starsThis one completely absorbed me and took me to 1950s India with rich and colorful descriptions of the sights and sounds. We meet Lakshmi, the Henna Artist of Jaipur. She’s built an amazing business for herself and is even having her dream house built. She’s sought after by all the ladies in town and might even get an invitation to the royal palace. She has an herbal medicine business on the side as well. This was a fascinating side story as most of these herbs were very effective.Her life is about to change when her younger sister shows up – a sister she didn’t even know existed. Lakshmi fled an abusive husband years ago. She didn’t realize the devastation she left behind for her parents and sister. Her sister Radha has a lot to learn about the world and how it works. She must just undo all the hard work that Lakshmi has put into her business.This one went in a different direction than I expected but I really liked how it ended and the journey into this time in India.I got a copy of this one through BookBrowse and it is a great one to discuss. I think it would make a great book club book.
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  • Elyse Walters
    January 1, 1970
    I’m not sure what I could possibly add to the already wonderful reviews by Alka Joshi’s debut novel.I purchased the ebook back in early March - before the pandemic lockdown - having no idea that it was a Reese Witherspoon Sunshine Book Club Pick. Life and other books got in the way - as many readers understand too well, too.A sweet birdie from India, gently reminded me to read “The Henna Artist”....[ for goodness sake, it’s time already].... and I did!I was in India for almost a full year in the I’m not sure what I could possibly add to the already wonderful reviews by Alka Joshi’s debut novel.I purchased the ebook back in early March - before the pandemic lockdown - having no idea that it was a Reese Witherspoon Sunshine Book Club Pick. Life and other books got in the way - as many readers understand too well, too.A sweet birdie from India, gently reminded me to read “The Henna Artist”....[ for goodness sake, it’s time already].... and I did!I was in India for almost a full year in the 1974....but this story takes place in the late 1940’s and 1950’s, in Jaipur, also known as Pink City.....the capital and largest city of the Indian state of Rajasthan. ( a vibrant city....a great place to shop for jewelry, fabrics, handicrafts, body oils, creams, spices, herbs, and other vibrant delightful divines). Author, Alka Joshi ....[as many before me have said]...takes us on an alluring, full-of-life, passionate, spirited, and thoroughly engaging journey, in India. Historical fiction at its best...culture, customs, art, traditions vs. the unorthodoxy modern life, challenges for women of the working class, abandonment of abortion as birth control, identity, escape of an abusive arranged marriage, family, (an engrossing sister relationship, romance, healing, solace, personal desires vs.family obligations, dissimulation, heart break, heart warmth, perseverance, courage, vivid experiential descriptions, wonderful sweeping cast of characters....( easy to remember), and marvelous adventurous storytelling.I was a little late to this book party ....but I absolutely loved it.This is another book that truly deserves all the praise it’s getting.5 strong stars....Highly recommend it. ( as many other readers did for me).Many thanks to readers before me....and congrats to our author - Alka Joshi - on her first - outstanding novel. Hm.....tonight is Friday night date night ( watching ‘Soundtrack’ on Netflix) , ..... maybe we’ll pick up Indian cuisine for dinner tonight ( Paul’s favorite anyway)....chickpea curry, veggie biryani, daal, .... cauliflower and peas, rice, and some yummy Naan Getting hungry? Me too!
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  • Chanelle
    January 1, 1970
    This was a book arc I randomly picked up, and to my surprise it was such an amazing book? I honestly felt so many emotions reading this—pain, joy, fear, worry, anger—you name it. This author has such a beautiful way of writing and making you care about the characters and what they are feeling. I honestly was amazed the entire time reading this. PLEASE READ IT!!!!!!!!!!
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  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsThis novel is set in mid-1950s India, a few years after the sub-continent gained its independence from Great Britain. The main character, Lakshmi Shastri, is a twentysomething woman who fled from her arranged marriage thirteen years ago.Lakshsmi recalls, "I could no longer endure my husband's beatings; the wounds that made me bleed; the words that cut me open; the mornings I could barely get up off the floor. And all for what? For the child I couldn't give him." Before Lakshsmi left, he 3.5 starsThis novel is set in mid-1950s India, a few years after the sub-continent gained its independence from Great Britain. The main character, Lakshmi Shastri, is a twentysomething woman who fled from her arranged marriage thirteen years ago.Lakshsmi recalls, "I could no longer endure my husband's beatings; the wounds that made me bleed; the words that cut me open; the mornings I could barely get up off the floor. And all for what? For the child I couldn't give him." Before Lakshsmi left, her beloved Saas (mother-in-law) taught her how to use spices, herbs, plants, potions, and teas - as well as specially prepared foods - to heal wounds, treat illnesses, lessen anxiety, induce relaxation, aid in conception, prevent conception, induce abortion, and so on. During Lakshmi's subsequent travels she learned to be a henna artist as well, and was eventually invited to the city of Jaipur by a rich businessman named Samir. Samir's sponsorship helped Lakshmi become the henna artist for high-caste women in Jaipur, including his wife Parvati. Lakshmi brings her supplies, as well as homemade treats, when she visits 'her ladies', and is credited with helping Parvati conceive her second son. Lakshmi's sponsor Samir also functions as a sort of business partner, introducing her to clients who need her help to get pregnant, grow their hair, lighten their skin, etc. In fact Samir himself is a client, purchasing sachets that prevent his mistresses from conceiving children. Lakshmi has worked very hard for the past decade, and used her earnings to build her dream house, bit by bit. The home is almost complete now, and Lakshmi looks forward to moving in and planting a large garden with medicinal plants and herbs. Ever since Lakshmi left her village, she has longed to see her parents, who - in accordance with Indian culture - would have been shamed and ostracized by her behavior. Lakshmi regularly wrote her parents and sent money, but they never responded. Now that Lakshmi's house is almost complete, she sent cash for train tickets.....so her parents could join her in Jaipur.Instead of Lakshmi's parents, her estranged husband Hari shows up, with a thirteen-year-old girl called Radha.Radha says she's Lakshmi's sister, born after she left, and that their parents are dead. Lakshmi takes Radha under her wing, and immediately starts to convert the 'village girl' into a 'city girl' who dresses and behaves in a sophisticated manner. Lakshmi also starts teaching Radha about natural medicines, and arranges for Radha to go to school when the semester starts. I don't want to say more because of spoilers, but I think it's fair to say that Radha - being a strong-willed hormonal adolescent getting her first taste of freedom - causes her share of trouble. There's quite a bit of drama as the story unfolds, and a wide array of secondary characters. Most of the Indian men in this book don't come off too well. We meet an alcoholic, a wife-beater, a disgusting lecher, a ruthless builder, an entitled youth, a flagrant philanderer, and more. Some of the women also behave badly, but - from their point of view - it's mostly self-protection. Indian women (in the 1950s at least) were relatively powerless, and had to maneuver as best they could to protect themselves, their families, and their position in society. Two of my favorite characters are Dr. Kumar - who wants to add natural remedies to his medical practice; and Malik - a clever, hard-working, 8-year-old boy who makes himself Lakshmi's assistant.Malik calls Lakshmi 'Auntie Boss' and skillfully maneuvers and manipulates (in a good way) to help himself and his employer. With an education, Malik could probably be Prime Minister of India.To me, the information Alka Joshi includes about Indian customs, dress, food, marriages, ceremonies, castes, etc. is fascinating. Cerebrations that require women to be painted with henna include things like marriage, pregnancy, birth, baby naming, baby's first solid food, visits to a temple, moving into a new house, death, funerals, etc. This provides plenty of work for henna artists, especially talented ones with original designs. The author also touches on castes in India, and I learned that high caste people aren't supposed to do jobs that require touching people's heads or feet; and high caste contractors can't built bathrooms, because of the 'unclean' association. Brahmin weddingThe author doesn't say too much about lower castes, which aren't the focus of the book. I enjoyed the novel, my major quibbles being that the plot is somewhat predictable and the book has too much of a fairy tale vibe. Still, this is a good debut novel, highly recommended. You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot....
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  • RoseMary Achey
    January 1, 1970
    People can change-this was one of the core concepts a reader is left after finishing this enjoyable book. The Henna Artist set during the late 1950’s in India features several characters who grow and develop and this was utterly pleasurable to read. The main character is living and working as a respected and independent woman. Rare for a woman in the 1950’s in India a country still ruled by the strict social mores and class system. She has worked for over a decade establishing a highly successfu People can change-this was one of the core concepts a reader is left after finishing this enjoyable book. The Henna Artist set during the late 1950’s in India features several characters who grow and develop and this was utterly pleasurable to read. The main character is living and working as a respected and independent woman. Rare for a woman in the 1950’s in India a country still ruled by the strict social mores and class system. She has worked for over a decade establishing a highly successful business as a henna artist and herbalist. Her well controlled world is suddenly upended when the abusive husband she ran from 13 years ago arrives with her sister in tow. A sister she never knew existed. This book was well researched and will completely encapsulate you with the sights and sounds of the time and place. You will cheer for these flawed characters on their journey to greater self-awareness.
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  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    Oh my. So much love for The Henna Artist! I admit that I did struggle a bit at the beginning but was quickly pulled into this beautifully written story of Lakshmi in 1950's India. I love historical fiction and enjoy reading about other cultures. This is honestly the first book I have read about the Indian culture and I absolutely loved Lakshmi's story!
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  • La Tonya Jordan
    January 1, 1970
    A fabulous read. The life of Lakshmi path to contentment was not the road must traveled. India in 1955 after the removal of the British was a time were Indians were starting to feel proud within themselves. For Lakshmi is was time for her to show her true worth. Getting the foundation of her craft as a henna artist and a healer in her tiny village of Ajar, she leaves an abusive arranged marriage to find her purpose and value in life knowing she deserved better. In Jaipur she is the henna artist A fabulous read. The life of Lakshmi path to contentment was not the road must traveled. India in 1955 after the removal of the British was a time were Indians were starting to feel proud within themselves. For Lakshmi is was time for her to show her true worth. Getting the foundation of her craft as a henna artist and a healer in her tiny village of Ajar, she leaves an abusive arranged marriage to find her purpose and value in life knowing she deserved better. In Jaipur she is the henna artist to the wealthy and powerful. It is at this junction she becomes more ambitions and wants to use her knowledge to become a matchmaker for pay. Arranging the marriages of the elite for power, appearance, and status. She wants her parents to see her accomplishments and live in the comforts of her hard work. And most importantly to forgive her for abandoning her marriage resulting in the embarrassment to her family. This is when her thirteen year sister Radha enters her life. Lakshmi starts to unearth the person she has allowed to be buried for her accomplishments and ambition. Lakshmi will miss Samir as well as I. A fabulous well written novel of redemption. This novel reiterates the fact that wealth comes in many forms. A must read. Quotes:How could I explain men who knocked on the door in the middle of the night? Or women who had lovers outside their marriage?He smiled at me. "Install WCs-hundreds of them. To a clerk a bribe; to a Brahmin a gift."I realized that I seemed so pitiful to him that he, who had so little, was refusing the food I offered. "Dr. Kumar said her baby had stopped breathing. Days ago. Her body was trying to get rid of it, but she tried to stop it from happening."
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  • Jeanette (Again)
    January 1, 1970
    If you fancy an exotic, Indian-style soap opera, get your sweaty mitts on this novel tout de suite. It's rich in cultural details about 1950s Jaipur, which elevates it to something more than chick lit, despite all the cattiness and backstabbing and one-upping of the high society ladies.It's not deathless prose, but it's highly readable. I finished it in a couple of days.
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  • Lindsey
    January 1, 1970
    What an amazing trip to India and the life of a local Henna Artist. We quickly learn that there is way more to it than her henna designs.
  • Smitha Murthy
    January 1, 1970
    I have done this again. Not really fallen for a book that everyone seems to be raving about. But see - I am from South India. We don’t really go around applying henna for fun, on occasions, to get pregnant or arouse desire in our spouses. The art of henna itself is far removed from my life. That’s not why I struggled with this book. It’s just that I have a feeling this book is written for that white woman who finds India ‘exotic’ and swoons at its ‘spirituality.’ It’s not written for the Indian I have done this again. Not really fallen for a book that everyone seems to be raving about. But see - I am from South India. We don’t really go around applying henna for fun, on occasions, to get pregnant or arouse desire in our spouses. The art of henna itself is far removed from my life. That’s not why I struggled with this book. It’s just that I have a feeling this book is written for that white woman who finds India ‘exotic’ and swoons at its ‘spirituality.’ It’s not written for the Indian audience who knows that India is also the nation of 10,000 startups, sleek bustling offices, and more technology than you can dream of. Show me that book now coming from the US! But it won’t sell. We have to show India with its drains of sewage, the Maharanis and their glittering lifestyles, and the prostitution. No wonder the West laps it up.I found the narrator, Lakshmi Shastri, a henna artist who reads Dickens and Jane Austen, rather unbelievable. Her explanations on what Indians do and don’t do seem written for that white woman audience. She has a sister who I would have thrown out if it were me, so annoying is she. The one saving grace is that Lakshmi is a self-made woman who leaves her husband, sleeps with her client’s husband, then gets irritated when the client gets upset (!), and is quite the nod to American individualism. Overall, I was annoyed with the book. But don’t take it as a rating for the book. It’s a reflection of my affair with the book. When it comes to books, I sleep around a lot with them. This affair didn’t last well or long.Pros: The prose flows. Beautifully written and engrossing. A unique setting of post-Independence India just finding its feet.
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  • Nenia ⚔️ Queen of Villainy ⚔️ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    Got this as an ARC! Whoop whoop
  • Brenda Waworga
    January 1, 1970
    Reading this book feels like i had transport to India on 1950's, the traditional Indian culture mixed with Western Influence! i learn so much from this book about how some Women treated so unfairly during their marriage but this book also taught women have their choices to make their life betterI adore the main character on this book Lakshmi, she is smart, hardworker, caring but also stubborn.. i also love her decisions through the story that makes me rooting for her from the beginning until the Reading this book feels like i had transport to India on 1950's, the traditional Indian culture mixed with Western Influence! i learn so much from this book about how some Women treated so unfairly during their marriage but this book also taught women have their choices to make their life betterI adore the main character on this book Lakshmi, she is smart, hardworker, caring but also stubborn.. i also love her decisions through the story that makes me rooting for her from the beginning until the end of the book, she runaway from an abusive husband and start her business from scratch until she became the most wanting Henna Artist in Jaipur... then.. she met a sister she didn't know ever exsist... afther that the story got more and more interesting I love how unpredictable the plot is but the same time very well put, there are some heavy issues on this book (trigger warning: abortion) that mostly deals with women issueThe ending... put the biggest smile on my face, i love it so much
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  • Whitney
    January 1, 1970
    Overall: A fast-paced and richly detailed story taking place in 1950s India. Strong female lead and explores the role of women in a country with a caste system. Recommend to fans of historical fiction or any novel that transports you to a different time and culture 4/5 or 7/10Summary: The Henna Artist follows the story of Lakshmi who is a skilled henna artist and herbalist in Jaipur, India. We learn early on that Lakshmi left her husband and family and moved to a distant town to gain independenc Overall: A fast-paced and richly detailed story taking place in 1950s India. Strong female lead and explores the role of women in a country with a caste system. Recommend to fans of historical fiction or any novel that transports you to a different time and culture 4/5 or 7/10Summary: The Henna Artist follows the story of Lakshmi who is a skilled henna artist and herbalist in Jaipur, India. We learn early on that Lakshmi left her husband and family and moved to a distant town to gain independence and start her own business. Her business is flourishing when one day her unknown to her little sister, Radha shows up at her home. Lakshmi takes her little sister under her wing and the story follows both sisters and a series of missteps that soon occurs following the reunion.The Good: I loved the detail in this book and the author really brings 1950s India to life through her writing. Fast paced and easy reading, the story grabbed me from the beginning and I finished this quite quickly. There is good character development throughout, especially of Lakshmi. She was a wonderful heroine and very well developed throughout. I also enjoyed learning more about the caste system and a women’s role in society during the time period the story took pace. The Bad: I wish there was a bit more depth overall, especially as it relates to the caste system of India and the role of women in society. Overall, the story was quite predictable but still very engaging.Favorite Quotes:“Success was ephemeral—and fluid—as I’d found out the hard way. It came. It went. It changed you from the outside, but not from the inside. Inside, I was still the same girl who dreamed of a destiny greater than she was allowed. Did I really need the house to prove I had skill, talent, ambition, intelligence? What if—”
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  • eyes.2c
    January 1, 1970
    Rich Indian novel!I found the background to this novel set in 1950's Jaipur fascinating. I knew nothing about henna work, well a few vague suppositions, but I was totally engaged by the art Lakshmi practised. I became immersed in her culture. I marvelled at how Lakshmi included henna motifs from other people she'd met, telling their stories. I was totally present as she combined her seemingly magical talent with traditional herbal medicine and her art. The Mindfulness of henna application comes Rich Indian novel!I found the background to this novel set in 1950's Jaipur fascinating. I knew nothing about henna work, well a few vague suppositions, but I was totally engaged by the art Lakshmi practised. I became immersed in her culture. I marvelled at how Lakshmi included henna motifs from other people she'd met, telling their stories. I was totally present as she combined her seemingly magical talent with traditional herbal medicine and her art. The Mindfulness of henna application comes to my thoughts. Lakshmi had fled an abusive husband. The shame brought upon her family meant she'd been repudiated by her parents. She didn't even know she had a younger sister. Imagine Lakshmi's shock when her husband Hari turns up with this unknown sister, Radha, a young girl of thirteen. Over the years Lakshmi has built up her business and is nearing her goal of building and owning her own house. Her wonderful assistant, a cocky, shrewd, street kid Malik is a stand out gem and a strong secondary character.Now this sister, this puzzling girl who is stubborn and strong willed, who has been used to fending for herself and retaliating when she was scorned has thrown her plans askew. The changes wrought to Lakshmi's life are catastrophic to her peace of mind, although eventually enlightening. I will confess my feelings about sister Radha are mixed, as are Lakshmi's. Lakshmi has built up a clientele of high class, wealthy ladies and is on the verge of bringing off a financial coup, taking her services beyond that of henna artist to marriage broker and more, including coveted access to the palace. Radha threatens this.Lakshmi had learned from Hari's mother to mix traditional herbal concoctions to benefit her ladies in healing and well being. The darker side is that she also mixes herbs for those very same ladies' husbands and sons to give to their mistresses and even female household servants if necessary. Lakshmi is building towards her goals from mixed sources. In the end those Lakshmi trusted are but paper cutouts and the goals she had, turn to ash. Gossip and vengeance take hold.I was absorbed by this look at a culture unknown. The realization that though we may do things differently there is still love, jealousy, revenge and redemption for all.I was shocked by the sordidness of the scene within Lakshmi builder's home and as repulsed by that situation as she, even as she recognizes the builder's wife as a fellow traveller.This is such a rich and colorful novel--in culture and characters. I was drawn by so many aspects that were startling and unexpected, woven seamlessly throughout. Along with Lakshmi I was alternately pleased, puzzled, hurt and shattered. Truly, Lakshmi's moment of triumph, and reconciliation to the truth of her gift is both redemptive and uplifting.An amazing read!A Harlequin - Mira ARC via NetGalley
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    A beguiling and beautifully written story of a strong, intelligent and independent woman SUMMARYSeventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone from her rural village to Jaipur, to escape from an arranged and abusive marriage, She becomes a henna artist and a trusted confidante to Jaipur’s upper class women.Lakshmi is known for her original henna designs and sage advice. She avoids the jealous women who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, A beguiling and beautifully written story of a strong, intelligent and independent woman SUMMARYSeventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone from her rural village to Jaipur, to escape from an arranged and abusive marriage, She becomes a henna artist and a trusted confidante to Jaipur’s upper class women.Lakshmi is known for her original henna designs and sage advice. She avoids the jealous women who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled when her husband and a sister she never knew she had, shows up on her doorstep. Suddenly the discreet life that she has carefully cultivated is threatened.“Independence changed everything. Independence changed nothing.”REVIEWTHE HENNA ARTIST is a book as beguiling as the henna art painstakingly painted on the hands of the women of Jaipur. It’s an endearing and enthralling story of a woman full of courage and perseverance. Lakshmi is a character for the ages, trying to balance both work and family. The writing is atmospheric. You will immediately begin to feel the dust and chaos of the city, and see the beautiful sari’s and brightly painted hands. Set in the mid-1950’s, Lakshmi portrays a strong, intelligent and independent woman struggling to succeed in both a traditional and modern post-independence India era. The Henna Artist is author Alia Joshi’s first novel and it is both a stunning and beautifully written story. One of life’s pleasure is a book that surprises you and this one certain did that for me. This is a must read book for 2020. Born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India, Joshi has lived in the U.S. since the age of nine. She graduated from Stanford University and worked in advertising/PR before starting her own marketing firm. In 2011, she obtained her MFA in Creative Writing from the California College of Arts in San Francisco, California.“He deserves paradise who makes his companions laugh.”Publisher Harper CollinsPublished March 3, 2020Narrated Sneha MathanReview www.bluestockingreviews.com
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  • Aura
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this beautiful exotic novel set in Jaipur India in the 1950's. As India becomes a country sans the English, a young woman Lakshmi leaves her abusive husband to become a Henna artist. She uses her skills with oils, herbs and the best henna to decorate, soothe and take care of women. She also can discreetly treat problems such as wanted and unwanted pregnancies. She becomes popular with wealthy families and even gets invited to the royal palace. Lakshmi is a business woman in a world hos I enjoyed this beautiful exotic novel set in Jaipur India in the 1950's. As India becomes a country sans the English, a young woman Lakshmi leaves her abusive husband to become a Henna artist. She uses her skills with oils, herbs and the best henna to decorate, soothe and take care of women. She also can discreetly treat problems such as wanted and unwanted pregnancies. She becomes popular with wealthy families and even gets invited to the royal palace. Lakshmi is a business woman in a world hostile to independent strong smart women. I love novels that demonstrate the strength of women in different cultures and time. I highly recommend this book.
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  • Shazia Khan
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for sending me this beautiful book in exchange for an honest review. Receiving diverse books from publishers makes my heart soar.I was six years old the first time I had Mehndi (henna) placed on my hands. I was in Pakistan at the time with my parents, and we were watching a henna ceremony from the lobby in our hotel. I was mesmerized by all the dancing, singing and by all the girls running around with henna on their hands. I begged my mother to go ask them if I Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for sending me this beautiful book in exchange for an honest review. Receiving diverse books from publishers makes my heart soar.I was six years old the first time I had Mehndi (henna) placed on my hands. I was in Pakistan at the time with my parents, and we were watching a henna ceremony from the lobby in our hotel. I was mesmerized by all the dancing, singing and by all the girls running around with henna on their hands. I begged my mother to go ask them if I could get henna done on my hands as well. It was the henna artist that caught my eye and saw me pulling my mom towards the ceremony. She walked up to us holding her tube of henna and asked me if I wanted a design on my hand. My mom loves to tell me how I let go of her hand and followed the henna artist into the ceremony as if I was an invited guest. While I don’t remember the exact design she drew, I do remember being fascinated by the end product. My mom’s favourite part of the story is how I created such a scene because I was so excited that the bride herself invited us to the wedding two days later.Reading “The Henna Artist” by Alka Joshi reminded me of this memory. I have loved Henna from that moment twenty-six years ago. I knew I needed this book in my life just by reading the synopsis. This story transported me to 1950’s India as we follow a woman’s quest at an independent life through her art.Synopsis:Lakshmi was seventeen-years-old when she escaped an abusive marriage and set off on a journey alone from her 1950’s village to the city of Jaipur. She begins a decade long career of adorning wealthy women’s hands and bodies with henna. Lakshmi becomes well known for her beautiful designs and slowly begins building towards her dream of an independent life. Everything comes crashing down when her husband tracks her down with a thirteen-year-old sister she never knew she had. The story follows Lakshmi and Radha as they both navigate their new relationship.This was such an incredible book to read around International Women’s Day. Lakshmi was a character I rooted for from the very beginning, even when she was making choices that I did not agree with. The author made her so human, which means she was flawed but also living under the weight of a painful past, a difficult present and often times what felt like an impossible future. Her dream of being financially independent and living in a house built from her hard work was admirable and it was a dream that felt so fragile, like a house of cards that a small gust of wind could topple over. “The Gossip-Eaters” as the author calls them had such a huge role in the book. I think the author did a phenomenal job in portraying how people’s words could have a lasting effect on a person’s life. The author also did a great job in depicting the hardships of different caste members, of the poor and unmarried women at the time.The Characters:The characters felt so real to me. The author did a great job in humanizing many of the characters, including the ones I wanted to hate. She excelled at showing the driving factors that can lead people to make bad decisions, which left me feeling sympathy for many of them. Lakshmi and Radha’s relationship was both beautiful and complex. These sisters really grew together, and while there were times when I felt just as protective and frustrated with Radha, I began to understand her and how vulnerable those teenage years can be. Malik was by far one of my favourite characters. I smiled every time he called Lakshmi “Auntie-boss”.Overall this book is immersed in culture, history and female empowerment. I always talk about how diversity is important in the publishing world and I’m really happy that books like these are being published. There is so much you can learn from this book and I have a feeling you will end up wanting to get henna done right after. I know I’m thinking about it right now.
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  • Stefanie
    January 1, 1970
    Meet Lakshmi, a woman trying to start her life over in an escape from her abusive husband not knowing how greatly it hurt and disgraced her family.In India she is the Henna artist. The one all the women want, to give them their unique henna designs. Lakshmi’s luxurious, one-of-a-kind designs are treasured among the women of Jaipur, India.The Henna Artist was a stunning tale of life in India for Lakshmi. Her highs and her lows, an immersive dive into the culture that leaves your mind reeling in a Meet Lakshmi, a woman trying to start her life over in an escape from her abusive husband not knowing how greatly it hurt and disgraced her family.In India she is the Henna artist. The one all the women want, to give them their unique henna designs. Lakshmi’s luxurious, one-of-a-kind designs are treasured among the women of Jaipur, India.The Henna Artist was a stunning tale of life in India for Lakshmi. Her highs and her lows, an immersive dive into the culture that leaves your mind reeling in a need to know more, need to understand more, mindset.Lakshmi was a strong woman and I admired her character, especially when faced with difficult challenges and obstacles in her way to a better life.I enjoyed reading and learning more about the culture in India as well... some of which was very difficult to read. It’s heartbreaking the way these women are treated and how they treat themselves.The book was slow moving in sections, losing traction in a few places, but eventually picking back up again. I personally loved the ending and thought the book was wrapped up beautifully.If you are a fan of A Woman is No Man or The Storyteller’s Secret, then I highly recommend this one for you! Another beautiful book detailing a unique, vibrant, and at times heart-breaking culture.TW: Physical Abuse, Infidelity, Abortion & Miscarriage (at times heavily detailed).*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.
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  • Marilyn
    January 1, 1970
    As I entered Lakshmi's world of India in the 1950's, I was transported to another time and place. I listened to the audio book of The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi read by Sneha Mathan. It was a beautiful, well written book that captured my heart from the beginning. The characters were so well described, complex and memorable that I often found myself closing my eyes and was easily able to picture them. Alka Joshi's storytelling was masterful and engaging. It was a book about family, sisters, a cas As I entered Lakshmi's world of India in the 1950's, I was transported to another time and place. I listened to the audio book of The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi read by Sneha Mathan. It was a beautiful, well written book that captured my heart from the beginning. The characters were so well described, complex and memorable that I often found myself closing my eyes and was easily able to picture them. Alka Joshi's storytelling was masterful and engaging. It was a book about family, sisters, a caste system that dictated one's success or lack of, advantages or disadvantages in life based on one's socio-economic standings, motherhood, forgiveness, idle gossip, deceit and transformation. Focus was placed on the issues of abortion, arranged marriages and the roles of women vs. men and how they were viewed in this time period. Throughout Lakshmi's journey, India's culture in Jaipur, India was revealed, seen and felt with all the senses. I loved the vivid details of the saris the women wore and the description of the henna designs Lakshmi drew on her wealthy clients and their significance. Lakshmi had many talents that she had the impossible task of balancing. Her strength and the way she always found a way to recover from adversity or a problem was so commendable. Lakshmi's reunion with her younger sister was at times so beautiful and yet so challenging. This was Alka Joshi's first novel and it was moving, unforgettable and so satisfying. I can't wait to see what she writes next. I highly recommend this book.
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  • KarnagesMistress
    January 1, 1970
    "Namaste! Bonjour! Welcome!" The story of The Henna Artist is like one of the titular character's designs, composed of intricately entwined characters, words, food (do not read this book when hungry unless you have ready access to good Indian food), and images. The underlying story itself is compelling enough: Lakshmi is a woman attempting to make her way in a rigid world. Even if you don't always agree with her, you will understand why Lakshmi makes the choices she does, and root for her to suc "Namaste! Bonjour! Welcome!" The story of The Henna Artist is like one of the titular character's designs, composed of intricately entwined characters, words, food (do not read this book when hungry unless you have ready access to good Indian food), and images. The underlying story itself is compelling enough: Lakshmi is a woman attempting to make her way in a rigid world. Even if you don't always agree with her, you will understand why Lakshmi makes the choices she does, and root for her to succeed. Then, you add in the details of life in 1950s India, from the conventions, the clothes, the food. The supporting characters are well-developed themselves; any one could easily spawn a companion novel. The entire experience was a delight and pleasure to read, also sending me fleeing to my local Indian restaurant as fast as possible. (Our kind author does helpfully include two recipes in the back of the book.) Overall, I just found it such a treat, and highly recommend it to any woman who would like to learn more about India, or enjoys historical fiction or strong, relatable female characters. This book will also satisfy the 2020 Watauga County Public Library Reading Challenge categories: A Book by an Author Who Is New to You; A Book with More than 300 pages; A Book Published in 2020; A Historical Novel. I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. It is an advance reader's edition.
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  • Belinda M
    January 1, 1970
    I don’t know that I can come up with sufficient enough words to describe how beautiful and enthralling THE HENNA ARTIST is. I’ve simply fallen in love with it and it’s definitely one of my favourites of the year.
  • Patricia
    January 1, 1970
    THE HENNA ARTIST is a beautiful book that taught me a lot concerning India. In the 1950s Lakshmi finds her way to Jaipur where she becomes a henna artist to the upper class. She works carefully to cause no gossip. Years later, her husband shows up with a young girl who says she is Lakshmi's sister. Lakshmi's caution is now threatened. I can believe that most people will truly love THE HENNA ARTIST
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  • MaryBeth's Bookshelf
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful!! I loved this story for so many reasons - the most important reason was it opened my eyes to a part of the world and traditions I did not know about.
  • Fiction Addition Angela
    January 1, 1970
    After settling down to read The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi I knew I wasn't going to be doing anything else that evening and it was going to be the wee small hours before I would be seeing my bed.The author took me by the hand and transported me to India a country I have visited several times and find fascinating - turning through the pages I was in Jaipur, in the 1950's a country still ruled by strict social etiquette and a class system. I was a little apprehensive when I turned the first few pa After settling down to read The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi I knew I wasn't going to be doing anything else that evening and it was going to be the wee small hours before I would be seeing my bed.The author took me by the hand and transported me to India a country I have visited several times and find fascinating - turning through the pages I was in Jaipur, in the 1950's a country still ruled by strict social etiquette and a class system. I was a little apprehensive when I turned the first few pages and there was a biography of characters. Usually this means so many characters and little development of them and confusion, but I didn't need it and I need not have worried.The main character is Lakshmi who fled an abusive marriage years before and ended up in Jaipur. Over the years she has developed a skill of being a henna artist and has a long list wealthy clients. She is a proud woman who has worked hard, and has saved enough to purchase a home of her own.As Lakshmi continues to work to pay off her debts for the house he ex abusive husband arrives bringing with him a surprise sister. A sister she didn't know existed, thirteen year old Radha a vulnerable teenager.As with all families their relationship is tested to the max and Lakshmi is torn with guilt.Lakshmi is also a healer with herbal remedies and she uses the herbal remedies at times to help women who don't want to be mothers, or who are struggling to become mothers. Cultural challenges develop between city life and village life.This is a book that will take you through each of the characters lives and the understanding of how people can change and make changes. The descriptions are so clear you really can smell the herbs, hear the peoples hearts breaking.Some great secondary characters in the story, I was fascinated by the caste system and the way the women are treated as well as learning about the henna painting and how it plays an important part of these women lives.Such a colourful story, with culture and characters galore. Unexpected, expected I was hooked to the many swirls to the story. Shattered, happy, perplexed, surprised it has it all. The ending put a great smile on my face. I am hoping that their will be a second book so we can continue with Lakshmi's new adventures.
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  • Greyland Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    4.25 starsARC provided by Harlequin-MIRA through NetGalley for honest reviewI enjoyed this book so much! I'll either love or dislike a historical book in the first pages and this one just in trapped me with its story telling. Loved learning more about Indian culture, especially after such big events in history with winning its independence from the British. This book didn't turn out how I thought it was going to be but, I still entranced with following Lakshmi's story and her battling cultural n 4.25 starsARC provided by Harlequin-MIRA through NetGalley for honest reviewI enjoyed this book so much! I'll either love or dislike a historical book in the first pages and this one just in trapped me with its story telling. Loved learning more about Indian culture, especially after such big events in history with winning its independence from the British. This book didn't turn out how I thought it was going to be but, I still entranced with following Lakshmi's story and her battling cultural norms and with facing hardships. The only thing that I wished this book had is little bit more romance but that's just my personal opinion.
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