FICTION

The Henna Artist

Mira: Harlequin. Mar. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9780778309451. $26.99. F
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DEBUT In the mid-1950s, India is transitioning from British rule to independence, and the caste system is firmly in place. Lakshmi has escaped an abusive marriage in her small hometown and built a successful henna business in Jaipur, serving many of the city’s wealthiest women. Although she is well-liked and her intricate designs are sought after by the elite, she is careful not to overstep class boundaries. When she is suddenly made responsible for her 13-year-old sister—whom she only recently learned existed—Lakshmi’s carefully ordered world is turned upside down. Impulsive, impractical, and innocent, Radha is Lakshmi’s opposite in nearly every way, but the sisters must learn to trust each other or they could lose everything. Joshi’s story of a country and people in transition is filled with memorable characters, some kind, some cruel.
VERDICT An uplifting tale that highlights the power of family. For fans of Shobha Rao’s Girls Burn Brighter and the novels of Kristin Hannah. [See Prepub Alert, 9/16/19.]

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