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The Henna Artist

A Novel
Written by: Alka Joshi
Narrated by: Sneha Mathan
Length: 10 hrs and 56 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (114 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times best seller

A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick

"Eloquent and moving...Joshi masterfully balances a yearning for self-discovery with the need for familial love." (Publishers Weekly)

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, 17-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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2020 Alka Joshi (P)2020 HarperAudio
What members say
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  • Overall
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Phenomenal and Amazing - a true journey :)

Alka Joshi brought her characters to LIFE in this incredible story. It feels as though we are traveling to Jaipur in the 1950s and are right alongside Lakshimi on her journey. The ups, the downs, the joys, the heartbreak. And Iearned so much about India and Indian culture at the same time. This is a must read - especially in a time when we cannot travel - Alka Joshi brings us on a far away adventure without having to step foot out of our own homes. I recently joined Reese's Book club and we began our own virtual meetings. We cannot wait to discuss this one. Wow.

Thank you Alka Joshi! And thank you Reese Witherspoon for bringing this amazing book into our lives.

KLML

3 people found this helpful

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A fantastic look into Indian life

I thought this book was very interesting. A good performance, well paced and nice voice quality. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys immersion into other cultures and times.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

My first audible book.

My first book period in a long long time. Since I was a teenager. I loved it. Maybe I enjoyed it a little more because I had recently been to Rajasthan for the first time in my life. This was a great story. I didn't want it to end. ♡♡♡

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It's OK

The story is OK. Literally just OK. Reading the reviews here, I honestly thought I was going to encounter an epic book. It wasn't. Was just meh. Sometimes it was boring and sometimes I cringed. Also sometimes I rolled my eyes at the exaggerations in the story.

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Maybe suited to an older generation

This book was just fair.It wasn't sensational or exciting.It was just an okay story with a few storylines that were interesting.The hints of overcoming abuse,were more of a referenced sub plot that something we experienced with the narrator.These were plots that I wish had more depth and better developed storyline but issues were quickly resolved and maybe more scandalous for older persons from that culture who may gasp at the details shared. I am glad the end was positive but overall it just wasn't enough.

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Friends

I shall miss my new friend Lakshmi. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her and admire her perseverance, intelligence and good heart. A well told tale that drew me in almost immediately.

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Such a great listen!

Loved the narration, loved the story and the characters! I was sad when it was over. Looking forward to more books from Alka Joshi!

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This book was incredible, I couldn’t stop listening to it!

Thoughtful and interesting characters made this story completely incredible!! I would recommend it to anyone, it was beautifully written and gave me insight into a culture I barely understand. Love it!!

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Journey of a woman entrepreneur

Loved this story and was disappointed when it came to an end. Rich, colourful and clever!

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Breathtakingly beautiful

The Henna Artist is like a sweet treat after wonderful meal. I got lost in the simplicity and beauty up prose and incredible skill of the woman who read the book. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who needs to be rejuvenated or is looking to abandon their current reality for a sort time

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-04-23

Lyrical and inspiring

This debut novel is impossible to put down and swept me away on a tantalizing journey through 1950s Jaipur. I found the entire cast of characters fully realized in the author's lyrical words, and the story replete with color and culture. I especially enjoyed the clever interplay of the audience's realizations with the protagonist's, along with her internal discourse as she is faced with the hefty weight of fate and external machinations balancing on a knife's edge. Phenomenal book!

32 people found this helpful

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  • mary mateer
  • 2020-04-23

Don’t read if you are pro-life

This book could have been so much better without the horrific abortion (=women’s rights) parts in it. I was so disappointed in the author’s decision to justify abortion.
The narrator was excellent as always, but I will not be reading any more of her books.

31 people found this helpful

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  • WI shopper
  • 2020-03-25

Excellent!

The story is well narrated and keeps the listener engaged throughout. It was so interesting to learn about the mores of another culture. Recommend highly!

18 people found this helpful

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  • Jbo
  • 2020-05-02

Heartwarming story about sisters and finding one’s calling

Excellent story and narration! The story takes place in India during the late 1940’s and highlights the challenges Indian women (especially working class) faced. I enjoyed the personal journey each of the main characters underwent while having to choose between personal desires and family needs. I definitely recommend this book to others who enjoy historical fiction and stories about overcoming the odds.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-05-03

Captivated from the start

If you are searching for your next listen/read, look no further. The author weaves a story rich in culture, diverse in topics, and with imagery so rich I could “see” the henna, the fabrics, the mandalas, etc. The story of trials and triumphs, perseverance, customs and traditions, new beginnings...this book has everything. This book makes me want to learn more about Indian culture while being relatable to any woman. The narrator has a tone and cadence that is beautiful and easy to follow. I couldn’t put this one down. I started yesterday and finished today. Easily the best book I’ve listed to in months!

11 people found this helpful

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  • Susan
  • 2020-05-13

Empowering - Purchase now!

I was immediately transported to India. I loved the story so much, I didn't want it to end.

10 people found this helpful

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  • H. Kirchbach
  • 2020-05-18

Wonderful travel by book while sheltering in place !

I really enjoyed this debut novel. Joshi captures the small details very well, and makes the characters engaging. I particularly liked her descriptions of the colors and images - of the saris, the henna, the surroundings. The story played out well, the characters were well developed, their struggles were relatable and well written, the story had enough intrigue to keep me reading and a plot that made me want to know how it ended. Economic and social realities were not obliterated. But at the same time it was magical. It was a perfect read for "shelter-in-place," taking me somewhere else in my imagination, what struck me the most was the detailed description of everyday life, dress, ritual, homes, etc. on virtually every page. The intricacies of the details made me feel as if I were present: hearing, seeing, smelling and touching the heart of India. Great narration !

8 people found this helpful

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  • Jennifer Bello
  • 2020-05-12

SO GOOD!

Everyone should listen or read this! It’s a beautiful story and so well written :) can’t wait to see more books that Alka Joshi writes!

4 people found this helpful

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  • enya keshet
  • 2020-06-07

Missed potential

Good story materials, but a shallow,
repetitive, mediocre writing job left them weak and disappointing.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Michelle
  • 2020-05-30

Loved the book!! Should be a movie!

I would recommend this book! Great story I wish they would make it a movie!

3 people found this helpful

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  • anna ker
  • 2020-06-03

Colourful trip to India

Atmospheric, delicious and fragrant. Loved the gossip ladies and detail. Beautifully read. A rare find.