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The Henna Artist

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  214 ratings  ·  93 reviews
Lakshmi Shastri has spent years carving out a life for herself as a henna artist after fleeing her abusive husband and backward rural village for the Rajasthan capital. Well-versed in apothecary and the miraculous properties of herbs, her services (the effects of which are far more than just aesthetic) are highly sought after by upper-caste women, and Lakshmis success ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Mira
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Average rating 4.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  214 ratings  ·  93 reviews

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Katie B
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 ...more
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio, overdrive
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 ...more
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 cant 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 ...more
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
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.
Shazia Khan
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
RoseMary Achey
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 1950s 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 1950s 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
"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 ...more
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
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. Lakshmis 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
Greyland Reviews
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, 4-stars
4.25 stars
ARC provided by Harlequin-MIRA through NetGalley for honest review

I 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
Mar 12, 2020 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Fanna by: Samia Abbasi
March 13, 2020: 1950s India? This can be such a great recommendation for the South-Asian Reading Challenge!
Minerva Spencer
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of THE HENNA ARTIST, which shot right to the top of my top 10 favorite books of 2019.

Holy WOW this book is amazing! I found myself catapulted into an entirely different world right from the first pages.

The book is written in a thoughtful, nuanced, complex fashion that is much like Lakshmi's intricate and enduring henna designs--and Lakshmi, herself.

Joshi brings the north-central city of Jaipur to life with her elegant, direct prose. The time is
Belinda M
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I dont know that I can come up with sufficient enough words to describe how beautiful and enthralling THE HENNA ARTIST is. Ive simply fallen in love with it and its definitely one of my favourites of the year. ...more
Wendy Morris
We read The Henna Artist for our monthly bookclub and ALL of us really enjoyed the book.
It offers a great deal of insight into the lives of Indian women of different backgrounds. The book is written to depict the times of the 1950's when the Caste system was still very much a cultural part of the country.
The book deals with the fate of one woman in particular, but those who surround her become a part of the whole picture and story.
I highly recommend reading this if you want to see into the
Laura McNeal
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I confess that I know the author, and that I wholeheartedly love books set in the subcontinent, especially books set in the past (1955-1956, in this case) and that if its a book set in India in 1955 and the narrator spends her days drawing with a henna reed and grinding cardamom seeds and rose petals I am half-seduced already, but all of these things could make me hard to please, too, and I found this book delicious. There is something elemental and mythic about Lakshmi and her knowledge of ...more
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Lakshmi ran away from her village life with an abusive husband to find a way to make it on her own. This is a difficult task in 1950s India. As she makes her way up through the society, making sure to always follow the rules and know her place, pleasing her ladies with every visit, and making her henna designs seem like magical cures. All the time, saving money to build her own house.

But when Lakshmis sister, the one she didnt know existed, shows up with the husband Lakshmi ran away from 13
gwendalyn _books_
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was received from the Author, and Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi writes a thought provoking, emotional novel.
Alka Joshi has meticulously brought the rich Indian culture and landscape literary to life within these vibrant books pages.

Joshi brings the northern central city of Jaipur completely to life with her elegantly written prose. In this captivating historical fiction
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Series Info/Source: This is a stand alone book that I got through the Amazon Vine program to review.

Story (4/5): Lakshmi fled her home town to escape an abusive marriage and ended up in the city of Jaipur working as a successful henna artist, with a secret side business providing women with a way to get rid of unwanted pregnancies. As Lakshmis business thrives, her dream of owning her own home is almost a reality...until a young sister she never knew she had shows up in town with her ex-husband.
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have been anxiously awaiting this book for months, because one of my henna artist friends posted about it when she did an event with Alka in California. I have loved following Alka on Instagram and learning more about her inspirations! I ordered the book as a pre-order and when it came in the mail last week I read it all in one day. What a engaging journey of hard work, skill, secrets, deception, frustration, shame, love, and luck!

As a henna artist myself I loved being able to picture
Keren Krinick
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Henna Artist is an EXCELLENT book! Set in India, in the 1950's, Lakshmi is a strong, talented, clever woman, making a name for herself under complicated circumstances. It all changes when her sister ("Bad Luck Girl"), arrives at her home. This story is incredible. Full of twists in the plot, ingenious problem solving skills, and turbulent sisterly bonds. Thank you NetGalley, to the author and publisher for this e-reader copy for review. All opinions are my own.
Cassie Luellman
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully crafted historical fiction set in post independence India. The author did an amazing job of bringing this time and place to life. The Henna Artist is really a book about womens rights, especially our reproductive rights. This book might be set in the 1950s but it feels immensely relevant to today.

*Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love reading stories that take place in India. This book did not disappoint. Loved the descriptions of The Pink City-Jaipur and the food. Very atmospheric. Thank you Bookbrowse and Mira books for an advanced readers copy. If you enjoy reading about India I highly recommend this book.
Julie Besaw
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I would actually rate this more toward 4.5 stars. Beautiful imagery and a story that kept me intrigued. Loved learning more about the culture of India. Overall, I would highly recommend!
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
From the first few pages of The Henna Artist, I at once knew that Alka Joshi had a superb talent for bringing a culture and landscape unknown to me fully alive.

I sped through the pages eager to follow Lakshmi's efforts to become a woman of independence and self sufficiency.

The Henna Artist is a brilliant first Novel from a writer whom I shall eagerly await further captivating stories.
Leelynn (Sometimes Leelynn Reads) ❤
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Netgalley, Harlequin Trade Publishing and Mira Books for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication.

Independence changed everything. Independence changed nothing.

That line gave me shivers. And it was the first lines in the first chapter, after a very heartbreaking prologue about a 13 year old girl
Alex Black
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
Ink & Intentions
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I never knew a book could take on such a magical journey. Everything about this book made me enamored for it. Taken place in the 1950's in India, Lakshmi escaped her abusive marriage when she was a teenager. She headed to the city of Jaipur where she made a huge name for herself has a Henna artist. While other henna artist used basic lines, dots, and triangles, Lakshmi's art spoke volumes and told stories about the women. The wealthy clients believed her art could bring back straying husbands ...more
Savannah Porter
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
This beautiful, lush story takes place in vibrant India in the 1950s. Lakshmi, after running away from her abusive husband, makes a living by making herbal remedies and being a henna artist. But everything changes when her little sister she never knew she had turns up, homeless, lost, and known as the "Bad Luck Girl."

It's no secret that I love reading about India and its culture. The Henna Artist delivered. It is so richly drenched in Indian culture with food, clothing, castes, hennas, herbs,
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There comes a point in every daughter's life when she begins seeing her mother as a person separate from her family, someone who has an identity outside of motherhood. That was the moment I began re-imagining my mother's life, and that re-imagining became THE HENNA ARTIST. I was born in Rajasthan, India, and moved with my family to the U.S. when I was nine. Even after graduating from Stanford ...more

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