The Henna Artist is so bursting with imagery that I felt immersed in the enchanted Jaipur region of India as I read the story. Alka Joshi writes eloquently of a woman’s (Lakshmi’s) struggle to survive with an independent, self-sufficient lifestyle in a traditionalist society of the 1950s time period.
It is eye-opening to see the scrutiny Lakshmi faces from other women with each decision she makes; the harassment and blackmailing she faces from men; and the judgmental mentality of people in general. It is also surprising to see how relationships are severed across distances based on minor misperceptions of her character.
There is a lot to learn about the values, statuses, and social structures that comprise the Indian culture from a time period when they were so prominent.
I recently had the opportunity to hear Alka Joshi speak about this book at an event and was immediately captivated by her passion for this character and just had to see what her excitement was all about. Now I can say, I completely understand.
In a time where travelling is so constrained, I highly recommend this book to those who hunger for a stunning foreign escape.