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The Henna Artist


The Henna Artist opens a door into a world that is at once lush and fascinating,...
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Discuss The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi:
Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

Created: 03/27/20

Replies: 32

Posted Mar. 27, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2225

Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)


Posted Apr. 03, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
paulak

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 131

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I LOVED "The Henna Artist." For me, so much of my enjoyment in a book depends on the characters and, from page 1, the characters drew me in. Also, author Alka Joshi so perfectly creates the sense of place, you could almost smell the herbs that Lakshmi uses in her potions. A funny thought occurred to me as I refreshed myself on chapter 1 where we begin to meet the ladies who Lakshmi visits for her henna creations. In some ways, it feels like a bizarre casting of "Housewives of Jaipur." Seriously, though, just a terrific book.


Posted Apr. 03, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
bestmartin's Gravatar
bestmartin

Join Date: 02/20/13

Posts: 103

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I really liked the book. At first it was a little slow getting into but once the story really started I loved all the sight, sounds and smells. I was really there (escaping the TV news cycles!)


Posted Apr. 03, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
sheyc

Join Date: 02/17/20

Posts: 5

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I loved the Henna Artist and read it again n two days. I think Lakshmi was such a deep character. I loved the relationships all of the women had. There were lots of complexities within these relationships that made for a great read!


Posted Apr. 04, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
scgirl

Join Date: 06/05/18

Posts: 136

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I enjoyed it a lot. I love learning about other cultures and other time periods. I felt the characters were well drawn, the plot was believable, and the ending was satisfying.


Posted Apr. 04, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
darylb

Join Date: 06/23/13

Posts: 142

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I enjoyed it. I lived In New Delhi as a child for several years and always enjoy reading stories that take place in India. The characters in the story seem like very real people. Lakshmi’s story was up,ifting.


Posted Apr. 04, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
gwenc

Join Date: 07/14/12

Posts: 50

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I was really enthralled. I had read some books dealing with or set in India but this book built such a clear picture of daily life (over 60 years ago, that is.) I could really see and hear the interactions.I underlined the sayings and plan to incorporate them into conversations. And the henna designs! Possibly a movie from this book? It took me completely away from the pandemic - and that's saying something!


Posted Apr. 04, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
TBM

Join Date: 04/04/20

Posts: 11

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I agree with everyone else! It drew me in right away and kept my attention--I loved how the smells, tastes, sounds all came alive, there was strong character development without being too forced, and it covered difficult subjects in a thoughtful way.


Posted Apr. 04, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
melanieb

Join Date: 08/30/14

Posts: 203

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

This is a very good book. The story immediately caught my interest and moved along at a steady pace. The characters are relatable and their issues are relevant in the present day.


Posted Apr. 04, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
johnw

Join Date: 03/11/12

Posts: 72

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I really enjoyed "The Henna Artist" since the author made life come alive through words. I felt as though I was there with them - the characters were well developed and description of the smells of the herbs that Lakshmi used.


Posted Apr. 04, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
sweeney

Join Date: 05/24/11

Posts: 103

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I truly enjoyed the book and the insight into a life and culture about which I knew next to nothing. In some ways, I would compare it (favorably) to some of the Amy Tan novels, and hope to see more from this author!


Posted Apr. 04, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
evelyng

Join Date: 02/07/18

Posts: 35

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

From the first page, The Henna Artist drew me into the life of this brave and enduring woman and the exotic and sensuous world she moved in. It gave me a sobering insight into the plight and difficulties that a woman of a different culture faced in making a life for herself through great obstacles of ancient traditions. I loved reading this book.


Posted Apr. 05, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
karenking

Join Date: 04/15/19

Posts: 14

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I love reading stories that take place in India. This book did not disappoint. Loved the descriptions of The Pink City-Jaipur and the food. Very atmospheric.


Posted Apr. 06, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 225

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

Like everyone else who has commented so far, I too, loved The Henna Artist. The descriptions were so rich and colorful. I enjoyed that there were so many strong women represented, in a culture where women are often overlooked. Lakshmi was a complicated character, and I appreciated the personal discoveries and transformation she made throughout the story. I also really admired how she dealt with so many challenging situations at once!


Posted Apr. 06, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
djcminor

Join Date: 03/14/19

Posts: 84

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I became enamored with the characters from the first few pages. I could hardly put the book down. The characters are well-drawn and engaging. I truly enjoyed the book.


Posted Apr. 08, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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bookfabulous

Join Date: 08/01/19

Posts: 3

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I really enjoyed this book especially the historical time frame it was set in as Indian society scrambled to find its footing after its independence from the British and as its lawmakers set to establish reforms that defied old traditions regarding age of consent and allowing for divorce- unheard of before in Indian society (regardless of caste).

I found the novel fiercely female through the author's kaleidoscope of female characters that ranged from the utterly traditionalist to the fiercely modern. As men, women also were trying to carve out a new space for themselves in the new India. The traditionalist mothers and mother in laws, wary of their waning role and power over the women of their households, seemed to stick ever more tightly to what they knew becoming ruthless and bitter in the process, whereas the newer generation were struggling to find their footing between the pull from a more Westernised India and the tug of steadfast societal traditions that weren't going anywhere anytime soon. I thought the author successfully managed, through each individual female character, to highlight the different challenges that women of all castes were up against in this time of change. I also applaud the author for pointing out that often a positive willingness to change comes from the unlikeliest of characters and places.

A very immersive engaging historical/domestic/romantic novel that flowed beautifully and seamlessly with a very well-tied ending. A great wealth of knowledge on Indian cuisine and herbal remedies.

One of my top reads so far this year.


Posted Apr. 08, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marys

Join Date: 05/24/11

Posts: 47

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I was immediately immersed in the story and I think I finished the book in two days. It was delightful, engrossing, and a great read. I would highly recommend it to anyone.


Posted Apr. 08, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lynne z

Join Date: 01/06/18

Posts: 15

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I loved this book. Having just finished a book that I slogged through, The Henna Artist was a welcome gift. I was involved with all the characters. I don't have to "like" characters, but I have to find them interesting. Nobody was all good, nor all bad. My favorite line was on Page 335: I set the watch on the countertop, stepped outside and closed the door behind me.

My only criticism was with the appendices. I found the Glossary of Terms distracting and unnecessary. At first I would look up every italicized word, but then found that it broke the flow of the story. Most of the terms could be figured out from context, and if not, it really didn't matter. The Story of Henna was interesting, but I didn't need a recipe. The Caste System in India was informative. I could have done without the food recipes. The book was strong enough to stand on its own without the additional information.


Posted Apr. 08, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ColoradoGirl

Join Date: 05/16/16

Posts: 63

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I really liked this one and felt transported to India. I got really interested in it and read more than I planned one day because I had to know what was going to happen! I liked the ending as well. I found it to be a quick read and the characters really came to life.


Posted Apr. 09, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dorothyh

Join Date: 01/23/15

Posts: 155

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I liked the book,Id give it 41/2 Stars. I liked the cultural aspects of the novel. I would recommend this for book club.


Posted Apr. 12, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beverlyj

Join Date: 12/22/11

Posts: 77

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

Overall, I enjoyed The Henna Artist. I found it to be a humbling but hopeful storyline. I enjoyed learning about Jaipur in the 1950s.

I especially liked Lakshmi's spunk. She was trapped in life of living up to other's expectations and despite the scorn she would receive, she was very committed to living her life on her own terms.


Posted Apr. 14, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dorothyl

Join Date: 04/15/12

Posts: 106

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I liked this book very much and enjoyed reading about the Indian culture of that time. I thought the story flowed well for the most part and the characters really intrigued me. They were complex and changed over time because of circumstances. I did feel some of the plot line was predictable and I was waiting throughout the novel for certain strands to emerge. They did. But I enjoyed the novel and would recommend it.


Posted Apr. 14, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
cindyb

Join Date: 04/14/20

Posts: 12

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I enjoyed being transported to India in the 1950s. The characters were complex and I liked the way they grew and matured over time. Initially many of the Indian words were new to me so the dictionary in the back were very helpful.


Posted Apr. 15, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
shirleyp

Join Date: 03/16/14

Posts: 12

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I loved this book from the cover onward. When I saw it was available, I was thrilled to be picked to receive a copy. I give this book an unqualified ***** five stars.


Posted Apr. 15, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rosemarys

Join Date: 05/29/11

Posts: 30

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I really enjoyed this book. I like historical fiction and especially enjoy learning about different cultures. The descriptive words made me visualize the henna designs as well as the setting. The list of characters and dictionary of Indian words were very helpful and I liked the fact she included recipes and explanations at the end of the book. I think I’ll be using this book when it is my turn to host our bookclub meeting.


Posted Apr. 17, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
djbshirley

Join Date: 01/05/20

Posts: 5

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I liked the book very much. Learning about the culture and why and what having henna drawn on the body meant. The book kept my interest and the desire to read it constantly.


Posted Apr. 17, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ilenem

Join Date: 04/17/19

Posts: 12

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I really enjoyed the book. I have read many fictional books about Indian culture and the caste system inequities. It is frustrating to me to know that although the books are fiction, the reality of poverty and caste system barriers still exist.


Posted Apr. 21, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pennyp

Join Date: 03/22/12

Posts: 353

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

It was very interesting, I will recommend it to my book club. We visited India 3 years ago and this brought back the smells, sounds and colors of that very beautiful country. Lakshmi was a strong and well developed character. I loved the strength of the relationships between women. It was a very readable book.


Posted Apr. 24, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
MaureenDowning

Join Date: 02/12/20

Posts: 2

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I really loved the fact that Lakshmi was based on the authors mother and also that the story was based on her entire life. And that she is truly a woman ahead of her time and generation. Great book and I am looking forward to reading more from Alka Joshi in future.


Posted Apr. 24, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beckyh

Join Date: 05/08/11

Posts: 98

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I liked the book a lot. I thought the author did a great job of setting the place and time through the use of words. The characters came alive and changed and grew with the direction and situations in the story. In some ways the writing style reminded me of Sujata Massey who also writes of India in the same time frame.


Posted Apr. 25, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beckys

Join Date: 08/12/16

Posts: 63

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

Historical fiction is my favorite genre...I always enjoying learning about something new to me, alongside an interesting plot. . The Henna Artist filled the bill. I love stories with strong women characters, as well, and Lakshmi was certainly strong .. she was independent and feeling like she was climbing the social ladder quite nicely until Radha showed up and threw a wrench into her plans... I love how the characters evolved with the plot and everyone seemed to grow in their relationships with one another as the book went on. Really a good story.


Posted May. 07, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Elizabeth Marie

Join Date: 05/26/18

Posts: 57

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

I enjoyed this book very much. The word that keeps coming to mind is “vivid.” The author’s description of India bright to mind twinkling gemstones and colorful saris. Her characters were complex and the plot drew me into the story. The setting was new to me and I loved learning about the culture and the customs. I will recommend it to my book club.


Posted May. 12, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
thereser

Join Date: 01/25/20

Posts: 9

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Henna Artist? (no plot spoilers in this thread please)

The Henna Artist captured me immediately with the lushness of the setting, but more especially by Lakshmi, the eponymous artist.


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