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The Henna Artist

The Henna Artist

Book - 2020
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"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."--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Toronto, Ontario : Mira, [2020]
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9780778309451
Branch Call Number: Fiction
Characteristics: 342 pages ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

Set in the 1950s in Jaipur, Lakshmi tries to control her destiny by utilizing her henna and healing talents. Unfortunately, she has an abusive husband she's trying to leave in her past, a long-lost sister, and the entitled elite adding barriers to her success and peace.

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Mar 07, 2021

This book is one of my favorites. It is set in India. It is about culture, family, love, relationships, success, failure, new beginnings. I didn't want it to end.

Feb 03, 2021

Life of a Brahmin girl who moves to Jaipur and her life before and after her younger sister joins her. Fascinating look into life in mid 50s India. Had no idea how constrained it still was for women.

Nov 21, 2020

Very interesting account of living in India in the 50’s with Caste System. Also interesting history of Henna and it’s origins.

JCLPiepieB Nov 18, 2020

A beautiful story about a strong and independent Indian woman, a henna artist, who learns to deal with whatever life throws her way. I'm really glad I read this one!

Jul 29, 2020

I cannot believe "The Henna Artist" is Alka Joshi's debut novel. She has written a powerful story which is at once compelling and heart-tugging. Lakshmi escapes a village and an abusive marriage to reach the pink city of Jaipur in India where she establishes a comfortable practice as a henna artist and a seller of herbs and other treatment mainly for women and their needs. Thorough Lakshmi and her practice, Joshi conveys several nuances of post independence India and also manages to shatter some myths. Prime examples of this are how she portrays, her own mother in law, Kanta's mother in law, and the Maharani of Jaipur all as caring and compassionate women while being tough. Every character and twist in the tale is so subtle that I would hate to be a spoiler. Suffice it to say she learns valuable lessons like how cotton root bark could give a woman a choice in her life. She learns to show her love not by words or touch but through healing. At the culmination of the book we find Lakshmi truly fulfilled as she says, "I healed, I soothed. I made whole." A must read.

Jul 18, 2020

4 stars. I really enjoyed Joshi's first novel. Latisha escaped from an arranged marriage to a brutal man and has made a new life for herself in Jaipur as a henna artist. But the arrival in her life years later of her husband and a sister she knew nothing about upsets her world. Her sister Radha is young and headstrong and because of that, everything that Latisha has spent years building up, her life, her livelihood, her reputation and her future are threatened. I enjoyed reading of Latisha's life, her struggles, what she had to do to determine her own future and the cultural mores of the place and time where she lived. A very interesting read and with great characters and a great storyline.

Jul 09, 2020

I enjoyed this book. The immersion into historical India's caste system was educational. The spices and ingredients used to make certain dishes and to make henna was fascinating to read about. I liked how Lakshmi had a journey of development from the beginning to the end of the book. I liked how the bumps in the road of her life gave her pause and taught her new things about herself and others. I am following this author and look forward to her future works.

Jul 05, 2020

In this traditional story, author Alka Joshi vividly describes life in India in 1950, 3 years after gaining independence from British dominance.

“Independence changed everything. Independence changed nothing.”

How is life at that time? Luxurious and privileged for some and exceptionally hard for many. All those kaleidoscope colours of India described here through henna making, beautiful saris and rich food can not mask desperation of lower casts and status of women in that society.

But, how is life for rebellious women, who go against traditional ways, who refuse to be traded as commodity, you wonder?
Be ready to open your hearts and minds and welcome the story of Lakshmi (Lakshmi is Goddess of beauty and light, good fortune and wealth in Indian mythology) into your lives! Marching bravely through life as henna artist and herbalist, Lakshmi is trying to obtain and keep a status of independent woman in India of 1950’s....Knowing that system is not set to work for her, we can fully anticipate all hardships that she will go through and wonder if she will prevail.
The story ends with a hope.....

May 20, 2020

3 o'clock in the morning & I just finished reading this rich book; every last fascinating page - of acknowledgements, notes & wonderful recipes.
I could hardly put it down!

I’ve read many books based in India, both fiction & non & must say this is in my top-ten list of them all in no small part because the protagonist is a feisty, determined feminist.

May 09, 2020

An excellent portrayal of life in India through the eyes of Lakshimi who escaped from her abusive husband. She went on to create her own world using her talents of Henna to give meaning to many women in her province. The plot moves on to reveal the many challenges faced by those who trust her abilities. In time, she faces her own challenges through the unexpected arrival of her sister.
The plot moves forward, and we are left with our own questions about life in India in the 50's and perhaps present day.


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