Cover Image: The Henna Artist

The Henna Artist

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Member Reviews

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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This novel was amazing! It was a delight to read. I loved the characters and the plot. The setting was so vibrant I felt like I was actually there. It was also very interesting to read a historical set in a country and during a time I am not completely familiar with. A must read for anyone who loves a vibrant historical fiction.
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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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Dnf review: even though this was a title that I was very excited about, I found it hard to get into.
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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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In The Henna Artist, author Alka Joshi introduces readers to a smart, independent-minded heroine, struggling to gain independence in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Lakshmi Shastri makes her living creating beautiful henna designs on the skin of some of the city's wealthiest women. It's a far cry from life in the rural Indian village where she grew up, and she's determined to do everything she can to keep her star on the rise, as financial independence is, in Lakshmi's opinion, the marker of true success.

Early life was not kind to Lakshmi. Married off at fifteen to a cruel man who blames her for her inability to bear children, Lakshmi feared for her life until she finally ran away, bringing disgrace upon her family. It's been thirteen years since she's seen or spoken to any of them, but she continues to worry her husband will somehow track her down. So she's not terribly surprised when he approaches her one evening, asking for a large sum of money. What does surprise her is the presence of a teenaged girl at his side, a girl claiming to be Lakshmi's much younger sister, born less than a year after she left home for good. Determined that her sister will not become her husband's latest plaything, Lakshmi takes the girl in, but being responsible for the happiness and well-being of someone else turns out to be much more complicated than Lakshmi envisioned.

Lakshmi isn't a heroine everyone will love. She doesn't always make the right decisions, and I sometimes found the way she treated those around her to be pretty horrible. However, as I continued reading and getting to know her as a whole person, the reasons behind her actions began to make a bit more sense. At the core of everything she does is the fervent wish to be seen as a success, and this wish sometimes gets in the way of other, more important things. Fortunately, Lakshmi does grow over the course of the novel. She doesn't continue making the same mistakes over and over again, something I definitely appreciated.

I know I haven't given you a great deal of information about the plot, but I don't want to spoil things for you. There's a certain magic to be found in these pages – and I can say that once I started reading, I hated to put this book down. I was desperate to know how things would turn out for Lakshmi, and my daily chores and personal interactions were shrugged off as I read. My advice is to pick this book up as soon as you can, and don't bother reading the synopsis. Instead, allow the author to sweep you away. I'm pretty sure you won't regret it.

I've read several novels set in India, but few have been as powerful as The Henna Artist. There's something so special about the story's heroine and the world in which she lives, and the author does a great job imbuing the story with a wonderful sense of time and place, allowing me to slip out of my own existence for a while. She paints complex pictures with her words, and I came away from the book feeling just a little richer in my knowledge of a world so very different from my own.

Buy it at: Amazon or shop at your local independent bookstore
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The author of this book was born in India but has lived in the USA since the age of 9.  This is her debut novel. Set in the early 1950's India, the book tells the story of Lakshmi who is a successful henna artist.  Married at 15 she ran away from her abusive husband two years later.  During the marriage her mother-in-law taught her the art of healing with herbs and she also uses these skills to earn money. Estranged from her parents, she only learns of their death when a 13 year old sister she did not know existed shows up on her doorstep.  The sister's arrival and her subsequent actions end up threatening the independence she has been working towards for so long.  This is a wonderful story and I highly recommend it.
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I really tried hard to finish this book.  I was interested in the setting and time period.  However, all of the characters in the story were horrible people.  Even the main character.  She makes decisions in the book that I just couldn't get behind especially with her"side" business helping the rich white woman in the city.  It just wasn't for me.
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>Made it 49%, Chapter Nine.
>I really liked it but it was too, too slow with not enough umph for me to finish when I have other books to review.
>Love the details about henna and Lakshmi's natural medical remedies, especially regarding women's health. I wish there was more about that and the dismissive doctor getting schooled by her. Might've finished it, if so. 
>Lakshmi is amazing for striking out on her own and thriving like so. Mad respect.  The politicking and balancing were interesting, but tedious over and over again.
>Radha is so understandable, especially her rage and chafing at the bit. 
>Malik is adorable and so clever. 

My ladies had changed nothing but the reasons for their pretense.

But these were flaws for a husband to discover, not for me to reveal. 

Today, when she saw how unfairly Malik was being cast off, she reacted as she always had--like a defenseless animal.

Then, as always, I remembered his wife, Parvati, my other benefactor.

"You don't need thanks. You've got a driver."

"You know as well as I do men can't control themselves. It is up to women to stay out of their way. If your sister had been brought up properly, she might know that."

Like my ladies, the maharanis had devised their own rules of gamesmanship.

He ran ahead to put our belongings in the waiting rickshaw and I followed, amazed and a bit in awe of my little friend.
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I enjoyed this book a lot.  Lakshmi's story was quite intriguing and the author did an excellent job of bringing it to life for the reader.   I enjoyed being on the 2020 Spring Blog tour for this title.
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