The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi is a historical novel based in the pink city of India, Jaipur revealing India in the 1950s. Lakshmi, a namesake of the goddess of wealth is the protagonist, who comes to Jaipur in her early twenties abandoning her husband Hari. Lakshmi works as a henna artist in Jaipur and serves the elite women of the city. Besides being a henna artist she is a specialist in herbal remedies, the art which she acquired from her mother-in-law.
Lakshmi is very ambitious and her business is prospering. She is building a new house for herself, which she can call a home of herself. But her life takes a different turn when her sister Radha shows up. Lakshmi never knew she had a sister until she stood in front of her. Radha was born after Lakshmi left for a new life, exploring her existence.
Radha being her only family left, Lakshmi accepts her without any denial. But life has decided a different fate for Lakshmi and her sister Radha. The relationship between the sisters before building a strong bond falls apart.
Lakshmi's home hasn't experienced a single day of giggling faces, Lakshmi's booming business curtailed and her relation with the elite women didn't remain the same. She started blaming herself for all the mess that has taken a shape of the storm.
The novel shows glimpses of India and the societies in the 1950s. The novel also throws light on the lifestyle during that period especially the lives of women. This also reveals how western culture saturates Jaipur and its inhabitants.
I enjoyed reading this historical fiction and I am glad I picked this book.