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The Henna Artist

(The Henna Artist #1)

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  34,339 ratings  ·  3,646 reviews
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 becom
Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Mira Books
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Lea Brovedani I would let my child read this if I was open to having discussions about sexuality and unwanted pregnancies and what that means to women. I think it i…moreI would let my child read this if I was open to having discussions about sexuality and unwanted pregnancies and what that means to women. I think it is perfect for opening up conversations that every parent should have with their child. Inequality, class, and poverty have an impact on the life we live. (less)

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Average rating 4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  34,339 ratings  ·  3,646 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 th ...more
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 husb ...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 can’t 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 bec ...more
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
Elyse  Walters
Jul 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m not sure what I could possibly add to the already wonderful reviews by Alka Joshi’s debut novel.
I purchased the ebook back in early March - before the pandemic lockdown - having no idea that it was a Reese Witherspoon Sunshine Book Club Pick.
Life and other books got in the way - as many readers understand too well, too.

A sweet birdie from India, gently reminded me to read “The Henna Artist”....[ for goodness sake, it’s time already].... and I did!

I was in India for almost a full year in the
I am starting to think that the best way for me to enjoy a book is to go into it somewhat blind, for that is exactly what I did with this book.

Books that show how women of an earlier time made their way in what was a patriarchal world always make me realize the progress we have made in the direction of equality. Granted there is still a long road to travel, but we will get there.

At any rate, this story's setting is in India in the 1950s, right after the Raj has given up main control of the coun
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
4 transport me to India stars

This one completely absorbed me and took me to 1950s India with rich and colorful descriptions of the sights and sounds. We meet Lakshmi, the Henna Artist of Jaipur. She’s built an amazing business for herself and is even having her dream house built. She’s sought after by all the ladies in town and might even get an invitation to the royal palace. She has an herbal medicine business on the side as well. This was a fascinating side story as most of these herbs were v
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
What a great debut!
This was very entertaining.
I love entering a different culture.
India is fascinating as is disturbing (all that poverty, violence against women and caste system - did you know that there are over 3k castes and 25k subcastes in India? - these topics are just highlighted in this book)
Although the writing is very simple, I was engaged from the very beginning and I was transported to the era and culture.
The storyline was absorbing and well developed/structured.
The only reason I’m
Smitha Murthy
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Those who like 'exotic' tales of India
I have done this again. Not really fallen for a book that everyone seems to be raving about. But see - I am from South India. We don’t really go around applying henna for fun, on occasions, to get pregnant or arouse desire in our spouses. The art of henna itself is far removed from my life. That’s not why I struggled with this book.

It’s just that I have a feeling this book is written for that white woman who finds India ‘exotic’ and swoons at its ‘spirituality.’ It’s not written for the Indian

3.5 stars

This novel is set in mid-1950s India, a few years after the sub-continent gained its independence from Great Britain. The main character, Lakshmi Shastri, is a twentysomething woman who fled from her arranged marriage thirteen years ago.

Lakshsmi recalls, "I could no longer endure my husband's beatings; the wounds that made me bleed; the words that cut me open; the mornings I could barely get up off the floor. And all for what? For the child I couldn't give him."

Before Lakshsmi left, he
Jeanette (Again)

If you fancy an exotic, Indian-style soap opera, get your sweaty mitts on this novel tout de suite.
It's rich in cultural details about 1950s Jaipur, which elevates it to something more than chick lit, despite all the cattiness and backstabbing and one-upping of the high society ladies.
It's not deathless prose, but it's highly readable. I finished it in a couple of days.
RoseMary Achey
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 1950’s 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 1950’s in India a country still ruled by the strict social mores and class system. She has worked for over a decade establishing a highly successfu
Oh my. So much love for The Henna Artist! I admit that I did struggle a bit at the beginning but was quickly pulled into this beautifully written story of Lakshmi in 1950's India. I love historical fiction and enjoy reading about other cultures. This is honestly the first book I have read about the Indian culture and I absolutely loved Lakshmi's story!
La Tonya  Jordan
Jun 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to La Tonya by: Honeycomb of Page Turners part of the Bee Hive Book Club
A fabulous read. The life of Lakshmi path to contentment was not the road must traveled. India in 1955 after the removal of the British was a time were Indians were starting to feel proud within themselves. For Lakshmi is was time for her to show her true worth. Getting the foundation of her craft as a henna artist and a healer in her tiny village of Ajar, she leaves an abusive arranged marriage to find her purpose and value in life knowing she deserved better.

In Jaipur she is the henna artist
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I entered Lakshmi's world of India in the 1950's, I was transported to another time and place. I listened to the audio book of The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi read by Sneha Mathan. It was a beautiful, well written book that captured my heart from the beginning. The characters were so well described, complex and memorable that I often found myself closing my eyes and was easily able to picture them. Alka Joshi's storytelling was masterful and engaging. It was a book about family, sisters, a cas ...more
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Gloria Arthur
Sep 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
⭐️4 Stars⭐️

The power of family and the determination of a woman to transform her life on a journey of independence.

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi is a fascinating and vibrant tale. The content was both mesmerising and addictive.

Seventeen year old Lakshmi Shastri flees her rural village and abusive husband (from an arranged marriage) to become one of the most sought after henna artists to wealthy upper class women in Jaipur, India.

Lakshmi is also a herbal healer, the skills passed on from her mot
Oct 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Starting off the month of October right with this book!! I really enjoyed it!

Lakshmi escapes from an abusive marriage and makes her way alone to the city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist to the wealthy women of the upper class.

As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her changed husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow—a sister Lakshmi never knew
Brenda Waworga
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book feels like i had transport to India on 1950's, the traditional Indian culture mixed with Western Influence! i learn so much from this book about how some Women treated so unfairly during their marriage but this book also taught women have their choices to make their life better

I adore the main character on this book Lakshmi, she is smart, hardworker, caring but also stubborn.. i also love her decisions through the story that makes me rooting for her from the beginning until the
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beguiling and beautifully written story of a strong, intelligent and independent woman

Seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone from her rural village to Jaipur, to escape from an arranged and abusive marriage, She becomes a henna artist and a trusted confidante to Jaipur’s upper class women.

Lakshmi is known for her original henna designs and sage advice. She avoids the jealous women who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life,
Jun 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall: A fast-paced and richly detailed story taking place in 1950s India. Strong female lead and explores the role of women in a country with a caste system. Recommend to fans of historical fiction or any novel that transports you to a different time and culture 4/5 or 7/10

Summary: The Henna Artist follows the story of Lakshmi who is a skilled henna artist and herbalist in Jaipur, India. We learn early on that Lakshmi left her husband and family and moved to a distant town to gain independenc
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: multi-culti, hindi
I enjoyed this beautiful exotic novel set in Jaipur India in the 1950's. As India becomes a country sans the English, a young woman Lakshmi leaves her abusive husband to become a Henna artist. She uses her skills with oils, herbs and the best henna to decorate, soothe and take care of women. She also can discreetly treat problems such as wanted and unwanted pregnancies. She becomes popular with wealthy families and even gets invited to the royal palace. Lakshmi is a business woman in a world hos ...more
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. Lakshmi’s 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
The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi is a vivid look at life in India in the 50s and one woman's search for independence, and it has got to be one of the most stunning debuts I have ever read. This book is so rich in culture and imagery that I felt like I was there the entire time. The characters also felt entirely realistic, and I was a huge fan of Lakshmi and so many of the women in the novel. I was so sad when the book ended so I was incredibly excited to learn there are going to be two more books ...more
Belinda M
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don’t know that I can come up with sufficient enough words to describe how beautiful and enthralling THE HENNA ARTIST is. I’ve simply fallen in love with it and it’s definitely one of my favourites of the year.
"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 suc ...more
Fiction Addition Angela
After settling down to read The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi I knew I wasn't going to be doing anything else that evening and it was going to be the wee small hours before I would be seeing my bed.
The author took me by the hand and transported me to India a country I have visited several times and find fascinating - turning through the pages I was in Jaipur, in the 1950's a country still ruled by strict social etiquette and a class system.
I was a little apprehensive when I turned the first few pa
Jul 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: india
The Henna Artist starts strong, it’s tragic and beautiful and an entertaining foray into Indian culture and customs. The beauty begins to wane at the end, marred by the authors desire to wrap plot lines up too smoothly. These characters grow, there is hope for fastidious new beginnings and happiness. This may be harsh, but I felt like the ending was TOO tidy, and for such a serious novel to end with a refrain from a character used purely for comedic relief cheapens the novels effect. That being ...more
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