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The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi is a masterpiece with a strong female protagonist

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

Alka Joshi's debut novel takes us on a journey of Laxmi Shastri, who escapes the abusive marriage and comes to Jaipur. To make a living, she starts painting women's hands and feet with Henna. With time, Laxmi's intricate and unique henna patterns make a great mark on Jaipur, and she starts getting appointments from the high-class women of the city. One day, unexpected knocks on Laxmi’s door changes everything. Her husband Hari comes to Jaipur along with her younger sister Radha. Their entry turns Laxmi's life upside down in some days. She is about to lose everything. Will she find a way out of this chaos?

"I wanted more, always, for what my hands could accomplish, what my wits could achieve - more than my parents had thought possible. " - Laxmi

I am in love with this masterpiece as it promotes many things that I advocate a lot like financial independence, feminism, standing up against something wrong, monetizing your skills without any shame, and moving on. The book is as intricate as Laxmi's henna patterns. While reading, I beheld Laxmi leading her life without any fear. She is much more than a Henna artist. She is businesswoman, a wordsmith who knows how to play with words to handle the situations, and above all, a healer which makes her more trustable. But at the same time, there are so many boundaries in this society she faces as a woman. A woman, who has abandoned her husband, lives alone, works with high-class people and experiences the gap, has so many ambitions and has nobody to support. Written in the first person, this book gives Laxmi the voice to tell us the story of her life, her independence, her choices and her struggle.

Women have their own reason for needing to do difficult things.

This book highlights the rich and vibrant Indian culture. I loved the detailed description of places, people and the heritage. So vivid and Beautiful. On the other hand, Joshi’s book addresses some ugly societal issues like patriarchy, the caste system in India, the economic gaps in classes, taboos related to motherhood, pregnancies, marriages, etc. Reading this book was a complete treat for me as I am a huge lit-fic fan.

I highly recommend this book to all of you. Such a wonderful book. Too good to be a debut.

Amazing conversion with the Author Alka Joshi

I got this amazing opportunity along with some fellow readers to talk with the author of this book and it was such a great experience. We got to know so much about Alka's writing journey, her research for this book, a peek into the sequel and many more interesting things like backstories of some incidents and characters from the book.

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