The Henna Artist

By Alka Joshi

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Recommend? yes!
Buy or borrow? buy!

A thousand miles from the tiny village where I’d started, I was finally home.

Alka Joshi – The Henna Artist

Synopsis (Goodreads)

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.

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41014401-the-henna-artist?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=ReuLSnwAf7&rank=1

Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2CwF5C2

Review

You know when people say that books are a form of travel without leaving the comfort of your own home? The Henna Artist encompasses that feeling so well, as you read you travel to 1950’s India. The author did an amazing job of submersing you in the culture and social setting. From the difficulties individuals faced due to their caste to the ideals surrounding pregnancy, to the descriptions of food —- I could almost taste the food and see the sights described in the book. The writing is truly incredible.

As we follow Lakshmi through her journey to create a better life for herself and find a sense of peace with deciding to take a new path, you learn about the work and passion that goes into creating these beautifully intricate henna designs. Not only is, Lakshmi incredibly strong, but she literally built her business from the ground up, in hopes that eventually she would have the means bulid her dream house and have her parents come live with her.

The way that Lakshmi and Radha begin to foster a relationship is both beautiful and complex. How do you jump into a relationship with a sister you didn’t know you had? You definitely feel as though you’re there, going through the ups and downs of new-found sisterhood with them.

I could go on and on about how much I love Lakshmi as a character, but a piece of my heart was stolen by Malik! There’s something about him that just makes you smile and you want to get to know more about him.

Overall, this book rooted in culture and independence, and my heart was so happy by the end of it. I highly recommend picking it up!

Zoom call with Alka Joshi!

Back in March I was supposed to attend an event hosted by HarperCollins in Ottawa with Alka Joshi and Joanna Goodman (the author of The Home for Unwanted Girls). Unfortunately, due to COVID closures, the event was cancelled. I was supposed to get a copy of the book at the event, and with book stores having been closed I didn’t get around to actually grabbing a copy.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when stores were beginning to open again here. I was talking to my friend and told her that I had almost bought the book, and she said “well good thing you didn’t because I saw it at the store today and I bought us both copies”. Needless to say, I was PUMPED to finally get my hands on the book!

So, I made a bookstagram post about this very story, explaining how happy I was to finally have the book and another bookstagrammer commented saying that her bookclub the #🇨🇦bookenablers is reading the book this month. AND wait for it………they have a Zoom call planned with Alka Joshi that I could join in on if I wanted to! I kid you not, I cried from excitement, knowing that I was FINALLY going to get to speak with and listen to this amazing woman.

We spent the call asking questions about the book, Alka’s writing process, her life, and how she ended up being a pick for Reese Witherspoon’s book club! I haven’t had the opportunity to interact with authors like this before, and it was truly a phenomenal experience. Alka is an amazing woman and I can’t wait to read her future work!