Escaping from an arranged and abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone from her 1950s rural village to the vibrant pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the henna artist—and confidante—most in demand 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.
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.
Chitra Banerjee Divakurani: “This book kept me turning the pages!” https://shepherd.com/book/the-henna-artist
At the age of 20, Malik is a well-spoken young man with the benefit of a boarding school education, courtesy of Samir Singh. He has become involved with a young tribal woman in Shimla. Wanting Malik to have a solid career, Lakshmi arranges an apprenticeship at the Jaipur Palace for him, which does not make his beloved very happy.
Malik soon finds that not much has changed in the Pink City of his childhood. Power and money still move seamlessly among the wealthy class, and favors flow from Jaipur’s royalty, but only if certain secrets remain buried.
When the Royal Cinema’s balcony tragically collapses on opening night, Malik sets out to uncover why it happened. In the end, he has to enlist Lakshmi’s help to untangle the web of lies that Jaipur’s elite would prefer to hide.
The final chapter in Alka Joshi’s New York Times bestselling Jaipur trilogy takes readers to 1970s Paris where Radha’s budding career as a perfumer must compete with the demands of her family and the secrets of her past.
Paris, 1974. Radha is now thirty-two and living in Paris with her husband, Pierre, and their two daughters. She still grieves for the baby boy she gave up years ago, when she was only a child herself, but she loves being a mother to her daughters, and she’s finally found her passion—scent.
When her friend’s grandfather offered her a job at his parfumerie, she quickly discovered she had a talent—she could find the perfect fragrance for any customer who walked in the door. Now, five years later, she’s working for a master perfumer, helping to design completely new fragrances for clients and building her career one scent at time. She only wishes Pierre could understand her need to work. She can feel his frustration, but she can’t give up this thing that drives her.
Tasked with her first major project, Radha travels to India where she enlists the help of her sister, Lakshmi, and the courtesans of Agra—women who know more about the power of fragrance than perhaps anyone else on earth. She’s on the cusp of a breakthrough when she finds out the son she never told her husband about is heading to Paris to find her—upending her whole world and threatening to destroy the life she’s worked so hard to build.