The Henna Artist

The Henna Artist

eBook - 2020
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A REESE WITHERSPOON x HELLO SUNSHINE BOOK CLUB PICK "Eloquent and moving...Joshi masterfully balances a yearning for self-discovery with the need for familial love."— Publishers Weekly 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.
Publisher: 2020
ISBN: 9781488055447
Branch Call Number: OVERDRIVE
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: Overdrive, Inc

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From Library Staff

For readers who enjoyed The Golden Son and The Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. 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... Read More »

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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 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 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.....

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