Book Review: The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

Title: The Henna Artist
By: Alka Joshi
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 368
Release Date: March 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Mira Books
Rating: ★★★★★

Summary from Goodreads:

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.

The story follows two sisters who are trying to escape their past and the bad luck that seems to follow them. Tragedy after tragedy strike, bringing the sisters closer together in the end.

I absolutely loved this book. There is much about this culture that I don't know and it fascinates me to dive into something so foreign. Although, it saddened me to read about how women were treated only a few decades ago, I still felt the culture and the color behind words that brought this world to life.

The characters were wonderful. They infuriated me. All of them. But that's what makes a good story. Even with the anger that I felt, I wanted to make sure the characters were ok, that they ended up fine. In the end, they surprised me with their resilience and kind hearts. What was on the surface, wasn't what was under the skin. Wonderful!

This book was a Reese Witherspoon book club suggestion and I suggest you read it too. My first 5 star review of the month, and well worth the read.

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