The Henna Artist Book Review

Hello Bookish Friends,

Today I have a wonderful historical fiction book review

After fleeing an arranged marriage as a fifteen year old to an abusive older man, Lakshmi Shastri steals away alone from her rural village to Jaipur. Here, against odds, she carves out a living for herself as a henna artist, and friend and confidante to wealthy, upper caste women. Surviving by her wits and talents, she shares her knowledge and keeps their secrets in a delicate balancing act amid the changing 1950s social mores brought about by Indian Independence. Vulnerable to opinion and innuedo, at any point her intentions might be misunderstood, and she could fall prey to a damaged reputation or worse. Still Lakshmi manages to save to build a house with the dream of bringing her aging parents here to live with her and redeem herself in their eyes. Then one day her ex-husband arrives in town seeking her out with a girl in tow, a sister she did not know she had. Her sister is both passionate and reckless by nature, and all of a sudden the caution that Lakshmi has carefully cultivated is threatened, along with her livelihood. But she preseveres, and in doing so manages to lift up the others around her with her success.


Lakshmi’s tenacity and spirit see her join the ranks of other brave women of historical fiction, such as Farough Farrokhzad in Jasmin Darznik’s Song of a Captive Bird.With gorgeous prose and urgent themes, the novel will captivate readers of Shobha Rao’s Girls Burn Brighter, and those who seek a narrative both compelling and necessary.





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This book was received from the Author, and Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi writes a thought provoking, emotional novel.

Alka Joshi has meticulously brought the rich Indian culture and landscape literary to life within these vibrant books pages.

Joshi brings the northern central city of Jaipur completely to life with her elegantly written prose. In this captivating historical fiction takes place a few years after Indian Independence. In the 1950’s India as a whole is undergoing an extensive climatic challenge, with conflict between modern and traditional thinkers. To epic divisons of classes.

The main protagonist, Lakshmi is known for her exquisite henna designs and makes her living by being a henna artist to the women in the village. She also is familiar with certain herbal remedies, a very lucrative secret side business providing women with a way to get rid of unwanted pregnancies.

Lakshmi has escaped an abusive husband and is cautious in keeping her name clear of any gossip. She ultimately longs for a home of her own, and with her wealthy clientele she just might have it. until a young sister she never knew she had shows up in town with her ex-husband. Lakshmi’s life is thrown into upheaval and her hard won business threatened, as she struggles to incorporate her sister into her carefully balanced life could threaten her dreams.

I was completely immersed in Lakshmi’s life and her struggles as tries to raise herself up become a woman of independence.

The Henna Artist is a brilliant captivating atmospheric detailed first novel.

I would recommend this thought-provoking novel for readers who enjoy Historical Fiction.

Alka Joshi is a graduate of Stanford University and received her M.F.A. from the California College of the Arts. She has worked as an advertising copywriter, a marketing consultant, and an illustrator. Alka was born in India, in the state of Rajasthan. Her family came to the United States when she was nine, and she now lives on California’s Monterey Peninsula with her husband and two misbehaving pups. The Henna Artist is her first novel. Visit her website and blog at


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FB: @alkajoshi2019

Insta: @thealkajoshi



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