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The Henna Artist
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The Henna Artist

A Novel

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.


Description

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.

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Testimonials


“Romantic, old-time Rajasthan leaps to life in skilled hands… I can hardly wait for Alka Joshi’s next masterpiece.”

Sujata Massey, internationally bestselling author of The Widows of Malabar Hill

“Alka Joshi’s superb first novel is unforgettable… Read this book slowly and savor it: Every page is rich with intricate pleasures for the mind and the heart.”

Anita Amirrezvani , author of The Blood of Flowers and Equal of the Sun

“Alka Joshi's debut novel is a richly drawn design of love and the many hungers that drive human beings... a lush, gorgeous journey that any reader will be sorry to see end.”

Erin McGraw, author of The Good Life and The Seamstress of Hollywood Boulevard

About the author


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 thehennaartist.com.


Reviews

“Eloquent debut…moving… Joshi masterfully balances a yearning for self-discovery with the need for familial love.”

Publishers Weekly

“Rich in detail and bright with tastes and textures, The Henna Artist is a fabulous glimpse in Indian culture of the 1950s.”

Bookpage, Starred Review

“Joshi has constructed a bewitching glimpse into the past with a tough heroine well worth cheering on.”

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