The Henna Artist
Escaping from an arranged and abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi steals away 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 upper caste. Trusted with the secrets of the elite, 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 perserveres, applying her talents and lifting up those who 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 world that is at once lush and fascinating, stark and cruel.