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The Henna Artist

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It is the 1950's and Lakshmi has finally made a life to sustain herself. She was forced into marriage at fifteen to an abusive man who beat her every month when she wasn't pregnant. At seventeen, she ran away from her village and family to try to make a new life for herself. She became a henna artist and soon discovered that she had a real talent for it. A rich man she met encouraged her and helped her move to Jaipur where he lived. Introduced to some of the upper class including his wife, she eventually found herself the most prized henna artist in the city.
Lakshmi has even found the money to build a house for herself. She is about to move in when her world changes forever. Her husband appears in Jaipur after all these years, demanding money from her. He has brought someone else. After Lakshmi ran away, her mother had another daughter that Lakshmi never knew about. Both their parents are now dead and the sister, Radha, has come to live with Lakshmi.

Lakshmi is determined that Radha will have everything she never did. She is only thirteen so there is time for her to get an education. When Lakshmi pleases one of the ruling class, the woman offers to pay for Radha to attend the most prestigious school for girls in the city.

Lakshmi should be happy but there are cracks in her life. She has a second stream of income, giving women who are pregnant and don't want to be herbs and drugs to make them miscarry. This darker money is made in partnership with the man who brought her to the city. His wife is influential and Lakshmi is attempting to add more income by arranging a marriage for their son. But when Lakshmi offends this woman, in a mere manner of weeks her entire world collapses as the woman abruptly takes away her support.

This is a debut novel and was a Reese Witherspoon Book Club choice. The author was born in India but immigrated to the United States as a teenager. Her background is in advertising and marketing. The novel introduces the reader to the culture and fashions of India and the caste system and lack of opportunities for women that was common in the 1950's. Lakshmi is a strong woman but her strength make her blind at times to the strength of others as she is determined that she knows what is best for everyone. Her constant maneuvering and willingness to do anything for money is her eventual downfall. This book is recommended for readers of women's and historical fiction.

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I FINALLY got around to reading this amazing novel and I just loved it! First of all, it was so interesting and the setting was beautifully depicted. I loved the main character and how she was a strong and independent woman. I love books that are centered on sisters and their complicated relationships. This book is part of a trilogy and I am excited that the second book is already available.

Do yourself a favor and read this novel if you haven’t already! I waited because everyone was reading it and I never read what everyone is reading (strange, but true).

Thank you to Net Galley and the publishers, Harlequin/MIRA, for my copy!

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Absolutely brilliant. The description of Indian culture alone was amazing. So detailed and informative. It is an intriguing story that will pull you in immediately and I loved it. Great characters and writing. Fabulous;

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While I usually enjoy stories set in India, I found this interesting but a little odd in places. The main character, Lakshmi, is a henna artist, but she seems to be treated as a guest by the wealthy women she works for, and is very friendly with the husband of one of these women. I find this hard to believe for such a country as India. Lakshmi aspires to become a matchmaker, as this is a well paid occupation, but then finds she has a younger sister she must take care of. I found this well written and atmospheric.
Thanks to the publisher for a review copy.

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I really enjoyed this book. It was well written, good character development and an interesting story.

I hear there is a sequel in the works and I can’t wait to read it too!

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Lakshmi's story is riveting. Sad yet powerful. I could not stop reading and each time I put the story down to do something else, I felt drawn to pick it back up and find out what happened next.

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A beautifully written story that was both entertaining and educational. The descriptions of the henna designs, the saris, and the people of Jaipur were so vivid that I felt like I was seeing it. Lakshmi is such a strong and smart woman in a man's world in Jaipur and as a "widow" she only has herself to depend on for her future. Throughout the story we find out more about Lakshmi's past and her family. This story was engrossing and is highly recommended.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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I was given a free copy of the book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Lakshmi escapes from an abusive marriage at a very young age and becomes a popular henna artist in a town miles away from her small village. Her wealthy clients request her for her exquisite work and her ability to listen to their woes and give advice.
One day, she is confronted by her little sister and her ex-husband who has tracked her down. She discovers her parents have died and she takes the girl in to raise. With the arrival of these people from her secret life, she struggles to maintain her reputation, yet perseveres against all hardship.

#thehennaartist #netgalley #hellowsunshinepick #henna #

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I received a copy of this book NetGalley earlier Tthis year exchange for an honest review.

Sisters .. female empowerment ... lust ... lies ... betrayal ... arranged marriages matches ..tradition ...

The Henna Artist is a beautiful story of two sisters who find each other after the death of both parents, when the younger sister travels to Jaipur to locate her sister she has never met before. I love the cultural details of this novel, and the underlying themes of love and redemption. I love Lakshmi’s strong character and resolve for an independent future that she chooses - even with her faults and mistakes.

Book rating : 4 ⭐️
Cover rating : 5 ⭐️ - I love the intricate design of this cover 💕💕

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“Namaste” to Alka Joshi and her book, “The Henna Artist,” as she outstandingly intertwines a beautiful, heart wrenching story of a strong, independent woman who uses her talents as a prestige “miracle worker” as a henna artist. The story takes place in India, set in the 1950’s, Alka Joshi remarkably pulls you into a world, and in it, your heart will gravitate through emotions, experiences, that someone can take away some good lessons and learn more about the culture at that time. This is the first book that really pulled me into their world deeply and I am grateful to be able to experience it.

Thank you to Netgalley for this opportunity to receive this book as an ARC ebook. All opinions expressed are honest and of my own. Thank you to the publisher, and to the author. I loved and enjoyed this book so much, I purchased a hard copy, to keep.

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The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi is a beautifully written novel about freedom and independence.

The Henna Artist is a story told with such passion. And in the author’s note, Alka said she wrote this novel for her mother and reimagined her existence as the main character who creates a life for her own. This is quite the vivid story and you’ll learn a lot too, especially about India’s culture in the 1950s, which was an interesting time period for the country.

Lakshmi is one of the most engaging protagonist that I’ve read in quite some time. You really feel her yearn and desire to truly be free. She escaped an abusive marriage and now works as both a henna artist as well as providing tea sachets to women for a host of reasons. But what she’s really working for is the ability to own a house that to her, really symbols freedom. But of course, she experiences much conflict along the way.

Her relationship with her sister Radha is complex. First, she never knew Radha existed and then all of a sudden, she has a sister who for sure has a mind of her own. Radha’s had a very tough upbringing and is quite scarred. While only 13, she’s mature beyond her years.

Lakshmi is suddenly thrust into a position of being an older sister and almost a parental figure to Radha, while at the same time, she’s trying to keep both of her businesses afloat. But Radha is not going to make things easy for her and their dynamic takes plenty of turns.

Highly recommend this story!

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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!

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This book focuses on an interesting time period in Indian history, right after independence from Britain. The caste system is still strong at this time, as is rampant sexism and double standards for men & women in all facets of life. This book focuses primarily on the economic and sexual inequalities. The main character, Lakshmi Shastri, leaves her husband because he beats her regularly for not providing him with a son. She runs away and starts a new life as a henna artist with a side business in herbs and natural remedies. Eventually, her baby sister (now 13) that she didn't even know existed, shows up on her doorstep with Lakshmi's husband in tow. As Lakshmi and her sister, Radha, learn to know each other and fit into each other's lives, we see the strain of family and caste relationships in India.

The story started out incredibly slow, at 45% I still wasn't interested and was considering giving up. I persevered because I had committed to writing a review. I'm glad I did because the story picked up considerably in the second half! I was frustrated with lots of the decisions the characters made, but I don't live in 1950s India so who's to say I would have made any different choices? Once things got going in the second half, it was an interesting glimpse into a unique time period in India's history.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or is interested in the history of India. Also to anyone who likes lots of descriptions and character development. 3 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher through in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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A lovely, messy, drama filled tale that shows blood has very little to do with loyalty. Lakshmi has to deal with an abusive husband turned do gooder, a little sister who never seems to listen, and henna clients who gossip more than they pay. Her faithful friend, a young boy named Malik, who calls her Auntie Boss, is one of the few welcome constants in the henna artist's life.

Lakshmi is a modern woman who doesn't want to be saddled down with a load of children and no prospects. She runs away her abusive husband and uses the skills she learned from her caring mother-in-law to start a new life. Just when things are starting to look up for her, Lakshmi's estranged husband comes-a-calling with a little sister she never knew she had. Now she has responsibilities she didn't ask for, a new mouth to feed, and a man who she must pay or risk her secrets getting out. This book follows Lakshmi's successes and celebrations, her trials and tribulations as she gets everything she ever wanted, only to watch it all burn to the ground, and then rebuild from the ashes.

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I totally enjoyed this book by Alka Joshi. I like the plot and her writing style. Will definitely be checking out other books written by her in the future.

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The Henna Artist is set in 1950s India, where we meet Lakshmi, a henna artist. Lakshmi had married at 15, in an arranged marriage. Her mother-in-law was a healer and she taught Lakshmi about folk cures and the properties of various herbs. Lakshmi's marriage was not a happy one and she was being physically abused by her husband. She escapes the marriage when she is 17 and after moving to Jaipur, she establishes herself as a henna artist for wealthy women. The job included much more than painting, she was also part therapist/part masseuse. She was also well known for her herbal remedies and was often called upon when an abortion was needed. She had other talents including arranging marriages, helping women get pregnant, and assisting with depression. She was well paid for her various services and eventually saved enough money to build her own house, until her younger sister appeared on her doorstep and changed both of their lives.

I enjoy historical fiction, especially if I learn something new that I was not aware of. This book was quite eye opening to me about the caste system, the way women were treated as well as learning about the art of henna painting. The interesting well-developed characters and the well-written and descriptive writing held my interest right from the first page of this story. I was captivated by this story and the lives of the characters within it. Lakshmi was an amazing character. She was strong, smart, and so deserving of everything she had earned. Her young sister Radha on the other hand, was very frustrating. I know she was young, but she seemed very ungrateful and might have had a different path if she had only talked to Lakshmi. There were many other secondary characters, some that played very important roles in the story, some villains, some very helpful. I was fascinated by the herbal medicine in this book. It was great that the author combined it with traditional medicine when necessary. This is a story that I will ponder for awhile. There is a lot to think about and a lot that I want to research a bit more. This is one that I definitely recommend.

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This book was amazing!! It took you deep into a world we will never fully know but made you feel like you were there. Such a deep and rich story of life.

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Oh this was so,. so, so good! I could go on and on about how good this novel was for ages. It definitely deserves attention and deserves to be gushed about!

The book centers around Lakshmi Shastri, a henna artist. She had a rough past. She ran from an abusive husband and a very small village. She is also well-versed in holistic medicine.

It was so interesting to read about the Hindu culture. I enjoyed learning about the caste system. The upper caste is the caste Lakshmi caters toward, with her henna.

The characters were artfully done and well written about. The reader truly cares from them, particularly Lakshmi. Excellent and two thumbs up!

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I found this book to be fascinating! I loved learning about this time in Indian history and about the medical practices, henna artistry, social class and women's rights. I felt so bad for Lakshmi as she tries to move up in society and prove herself only to see setbacks. A very good book!

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I finished this beautiful book this morning. I haven't been to or read many books about India, but of the ones I have read, I always find the stories enchanting and the setting distinctly beautiful in a way other stories just can't be.

@alkajoshi wrote a realistic tale about women in newly independent India. Sisters who are trying to find success despite a society and caste structure that is built against them. I wanted so badly for these women to find their own happiness, whatever that looked like. The writing was perfect with gorgeous descriptions and a pace that kept me interesting while still feeling immersed in the story.

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