The Henna Artist: A Tale of Ambition and Deception in 1950s India (The Jaipur Trilogy, 1)



"Captivated me from the first chapter to the final page."--Reese Witherspoon

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 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.

"Eloquent and moving...Joshi masterfully balances a yearning for self-discovery with the need for familial love."--Publishers Weekly

Look for The Secret Keeper of Jaipur and The Perfumist of Paris from New York Times bestselling author Alka Joshi!
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400 pages

Average rating: 7.84




Community Reviews

May 29, 2024
Loved this book. A story of resilience and love. Beautifully written. Great character development.
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Mar 26, 2024
6/10 stars
I remember this being pretty good... but then I don't really remember the book all that well. So. Great book. Maybe not that memorable.
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Dec 27, 2023
8/10 stars
Fascinating story of life in 1950s Jaipur. Lakshi escapes a harsh marriage with the skills of herbal healing that her mother in law taught her. Through her story and those of her family and friends, we are invited into the harsh reality of life in this impoverished part of the world. Lakshi’s sister who she didn’t even know existed, finds her and we watch them feel their way to becoming a family.
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Sep 18, 2023
6/10 stars
While Lakshmi claws her way towards the farthest she thinks she can get from her trauma and I love that for her in all her round-about ways I just can't get over the painful pregnancy parts. I get that it's probably realistic, that it makes sense, and all that bunk, but it also just lessened my love for the story with how much it went along with girls being pregnant, not young women, literal children. Feminine power in choosing when and how to be pregnant and raise children. Love it. Give me more always. And tell the stories of those that should never be repeated. But I won't be rereading this ever for the ick factor of it no matter how beautifully written.
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Aug 25, 2023
10/10 stars
I found myself thinking about life's choices and the path it brings you on while reading this book. Reading Lakshmi striving for a better life when the caste system and society culture is against her is a true struggle in India. It is a rare view when you take the pressure out of a parent in one's life but you still face the pressures of the Indian culture. As she weights her options when facing an injustice in a fair and just manner, it is frustrating as the outcome isn't always what she wants but to follow the path afterwards makes it a good novel. Lakshmi truly changed and inspired those around her, even though they may not have realized it for the first few years of interaction. I thought the epilogue at the end was the most beautiful touching part
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