Review of “The Henna Artist” by Alka Joshi

WOW! In my opinion, one of the best books that I will read this year! It was very well written, an interesting plot, and the characters were all interesting. I love a historical novel that just tells the story and does “mansplain” every detail to me.

This novel is set in 1950s India. Alka Joshi’s writing style is so vivid that it felt like I was there and knew the characters! I learned so much about their culture. She had interesting and well-developed characters throughout the novel as well. She also included a character list at the beginning of the novel. I loved that!

A brief summary of the novel is it is about a 17 year old girl escapes an abusive marriage. She starts to work and develop a reputation as a talented henna artist as well as a procurer of herbal remedies for over 13 years while not revealing her past to anyone. But as she starts to build a new life there, her past comes back to haunt her and threatens to ruin her career. Her estranged husband returns with a 13 year old sister who she has never met. The story from there is interesting as it touches on culture, family, traditions, secrets, etc. It also discussed the difference between socioeconomic classes in India. We get to see women in each class and see how they live, their problems, etc.

I could not put this book down. It was so good. This novel is full of intricately entwined characters. The plot is interesting. This is not a fluffy romance historical novel.

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