The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
Publisher: Mira Books • Publication Date: March 3, 2020
India is a country I have always wanted to travel to. I’ve been very close to it, a few years ago I was in Nepal for a week for my best friend’s wedding (this photo features the beautiful sari I got to wear), and I hope one day I’ll get to visit India. In the time being, I enjoy reading books that take place there and with my goal to read more books that take place around the world, I kicked off my 2021 reading with The Henna Artist.
I have mixed feelings on the book, I did like parts of it and I thought Joshi did a great job transporting the reader to India in the 1950s. I think in a way I kind of sabotaged my feelings on this book because I started to compare it to one of my all-time favorite books that also takes place in India, The Storyteller’s Secret.
When the book started, I found Lakshmi’s story fascinating with how she escaped an abusive marriage and made a life for herself in a new town miles away being a henna artist. She went from having nothing to being able to build a house for herself in 13 years. Once Radha, her sister was introduced, that is when I felt the story started to fall apart for me. I understand the drama of the book centered around their relationship, but it bogged it down too much and took away from allowing Lakshmi’s character to develop more.
Something I loved about this had nothing to do with the story, it was the breakdown of who the characters were in the beginning of the book and the glossary of terms in the back. For me it helped to enhance the reading experience being able to have the reference guides.
Content Warning: Abortion