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The Henna Artist: A Novel by Alka Joshi
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The Henna Artist: A Novel (edition 2021)

by Alka Joshi (Author)

Series: The Jaipur Trilogy (1)

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5273634,834 (4.06)15
A talented henna artist for wealthy confidantes finds her efforts to control her own destiny in 1950s Jaipur threatened by the abusive husband she fled as a teenage girl.
Member:MellDK
Title:The Henna Artist: A Novel
Authors:Alka Joshi (Author)
Info:MIRA (2021), Edition: First Time Trade, 400 pages
Collections:Wishlist, To read
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The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

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Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
"The Henna Artist" started well and gave an interesting insight into the life of one independent Indian woman. I enjoyed learning about her life as a henna artist and how the affluent women of the area lived their lives. However, the plot was laborious and I felt that the author only skimmed the surface. I wanted more detail about the history of henna the the culture and customs of this exotic country.

Lakshmi was an interesting character and for the most part I liked her but her younger sister, Radha, annoyed me from the start. She was extremely selfish and immature. I know that readers on GoodReads is giving this novel rave reviews but I found it mediocre at best. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jul 17, 2021 |
Lakshmi left an abusive marriage years ago and has spent her time away becoming the most sought-after henna artist in Jaipur. It’s the 1950s so divorce for an Indian woman is unheard of – Lakshmi must present herself as a widow. This is all well and good until her husband shows up out of the blue with a 13-year-old girl who he says is her younger sister. Keeping him a secret has deep repercussions on her reputation and way of life.

The Henna Artist shows how pervasive the caste system was in India in the 1950s and how little control women of any caste had over their own lives. Even Lakshmi, a supposed widow, isn’t fully independent. Lakshmi has to tread very carefully in her interactions with the wealthy women she hennas – it must be mentally exhausting. Every conversation is filled with innuendo and hidden meaning. Words must be carefully chosen. This becomes even more apparent when Lakshmi takes in her sister, who has been raised in abject poverty and has no social graces whatsoever.

The Henna Artist was right up my alley – we know by now that I love books about the social mores of India. My favorite character was Maharani Indira Man Singh. She and her parrot provided just the right amount of comic relief in what was otherwise a pretty heavy book. I enjoyed reading it but it was not a feel-good book by any means. From what I understand, The Henna Artist is the first book in a planned trilogy. The second book, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur, came out in June. Its focus is Malik, Lakshmi’s young assistant. I plan to read it soon before I forget the details of The Henna Artist. I’ll keep you posted! ( )
  mcelhra | Jul 16, 2021 |
Listened on Audible. Quite good and I think the narrator made me feel more immersed in the tale ( )
  scoene | Jul 13, 2021 |
Kathy
  chapterthree | Jun 2, 2021 |
Oh my god! This was beautiful. I was hung! All of those plot twists, every time I had a theory, it was crashed down by something better! Up until the very end I was wondering how things could end up good for the sisters! Of all of the Reese's Book Club this is the first I read this fast! Two days to just eat up this amazing book! I loved how complicated the relationship between the sisters were. It broke my heart for Lukshmi's sister... I am just so happy that she has a family of her own, and a new place to call home, with a job where she can prosper and use her talent. The fact that her little sister will also be able to keep studying is amazing news! Loved, loved it! ( )
  iamcmims | Apr 4, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
The traveler has to knock

at every alien door to come to his own,

and one has to wander through all the outer worlds

to reach the innermost shrine at the end.

--from the poem Journey Home by Rabindranath Tagore

When the Goddess of Wealth comes to give you her blessing,

you shouldn't leave the room to wash your face.

--Hindu proverb
Dedication
For my mother, Sudha Latika Joshi, who championed my independence

For my father, Ramesh Chandra Joshi, who sang me the sweetest lullaby
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Her feet step lightly on the hard earth, calloused soles insensible to the tiny pebbles and caked mud along the riverbank.
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A talented henna artist for wealthy confidantes finds her efforts to control her own destiny in 1950s Jaipur threatened by the abusive husband she fled as a teenage girl.

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