In New York Times bestselling author Alka Joshi’s intriguing new novel, henna artist Lakshmi arranges for her protégé, Malik, to intern at the Jaipur Palace in this tale rich in character, atmosphere, and lavish storytelling.
It’s the spring of 1969, and Lakshmi, now married to Dr. Jay Kumar, directs the Healing Garden in Shimla. Malik has finished his private school education. At twenty, he has just met a young woman named Nimmi when he leaves to apprentice at the Facilities Office of the Jaipur Royal Palace. Their latest project: a state-of-the-art cinema.
Malik soon finds that not much has changed as he navigates the Pink City of his childhood. Power and money still move seamlessly among the wealthy class, and favours flow from Jaipur’s Royal Palace, but only if certain secrets remain buried. When the cinema’s balcony tragically collapses on opening night, blame is placed where it is convenient. But Malik suspects something far darker and sets out to uncover the truth. As a former street child, he always knew to keep his own counsel; it’s a lesson that will serve him as he untangles a web of lies.
Fans of an epic read that transports you to another place and time and immerses you in a completely unfamiliar culture and setting will adore this stunning historical read based in Jaipur, the stunning ‘Pink City’ and somewhere I have always wanted to travel to and see with my own eyes. Needless to say, after reading this book, I’m even more desperate to see it for myself and think that this would be a perfect staycation read as you’re able to vicariously experience somewhere so stunnning for yourself, without breaking the travel ban…
Maybe it was because I am stuck at home rather than being able to dust off my travelling bags and head off to explore somewhere unfamiliar and exotic that I’m getting so much pleasure from time travelling through the books that I’m choosing of late. I can’t stop reaching for historical fiction, and this is one of the best books I’ve read in this genre this year. I was absolutely intrigued by the premise of this book and it didn’t put me off that I hadn’t read ‘The Henna Artist’. It feels like Alka Joshi has done her utmost to make sure that The Secret Keeper of Jaipur can be enjoyed as a standalone. The book starts with a helpful index of all of the characters and the novel goes backwards and forwards in time so that you can get a sense of the back story withiout feeling lost. I was delighted to be invited on the tour by Anne Cater from Random Things Tours and found myself absolutely intrigued by this fasciniating insight into this setting and the story that unfolded through its pages of a beautiful city and the characters that live and love there…
This book whisked me off to this stunning location where we become wholly wrapped up in the story of Lakshmi, Nimmi and Malik. The fact that they live in completely different versions of the city and come from very different ends of the social divide made for fascinating reading and it was so interesting to see the culture of the villages come to life as we travel to Shimla and see a very different perspective from life within the confines of the city. I found this so fasinating and this really added to the story for me. It’s a book that you’ll find hard to believe it’s fiction as you’ll become so caught up in these characters stories As an outsider, Malik has a perceptive view of the wealth and luxury enjoyed by the upper classes of Jaipur and it is where the writing truly shines as we get to see the streets, the jewels, the buildings and the busy streets spring to life in stunningly vivid prose that makes you feel like you could be there right alongside these characters.
I absolutely loved the unique atmosphere of this novel and definitely found it quite addictive. It was intriguing to imagine a world in which your choices and next direction are far more constrained than women nowadays. I thought the contrasts between the Himalayas and Jaipur were really well delineated and we get a sense of the vastness of India and how different places can be from one another both in terms of terrain but also culturally. I really want to visit Shimla now and walk in their footsteps and can imagine the sights and sounds perfectly, even though they are so different from rural Dunblane…
This novel presents this period of history in a fresh original way which makes you feel like you understand each of these characters’ perspectives equally. It has made me determined to read The Henna Artist this summer and go back and explore Laksmi’s past in more detail which will feel a bit like time travelling. She feels very much like a real person, despite the distance of time between us and you feel really caught up in her story. This is a really unique novel which has to be experienced to truly realise how special it is. I’d love to see it on the silver screen and see this fascinating tale unfold in such a beautiful setting – it really feels like an epic and you can bathe your senses in it as you read and feel the sights sounds and smells of India wash over you as you begin to see beneath the privilege and beauty and find out about the nepotism and corruption that lurk beneath the glittering pink facades…
Alka Joshi is certainly a talented writer – and I really enjoyed researching more about Shimla and Jaipur online after I’d finished reading the book. You will be fascinated to uncover all that is going on beneath the surface and I defy anyone to finish this book and not want to read more by this writer immediately.Your relationship with the characters builds and builds as you experience the challenges and barriers that they face and you will be rooting for them as they all endeavour t overcome their individual challenges from the mountainous pathways of the Himalayas to the shimmering palaces of the Pink City itself.
This is a book that I know I’ll be recommending to lots of readers as I was totally immersed in its characters, its stunning sense of place and the way it really allowed me to connect with its characters. I think that this would make an excellent Book Group read as it would be sure to provoke lots and lots of discussion about a nation and culture that most people don’t know very much about…
Treat yourself to a copy and discover this epic and fascinating story for yourself
PRAISE FOR THE SECRET KEEPER OF JAIPUR
“With its beautifully complex cast of characters, THE SECRET KEEPER OF JAIPUR plunges readers back into the sumptuous world of THE HENNA ARTIST, where power, money, and secrets abound — and where carefully cultivated reputations balance on the knife edge of influence.”–Bryn Turnbull, bestselling author of The Woman Before Wallis
“In this timeless tale of loyalty, ambition, and love, Joshi explores what it means to create and build–from architectural marvels to chosen families–in a way that not only endures but inspires.”– Nancy Jooyoun Kim, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Story of Mina Lee
PRAISE FOR ALKA JOSHI’S THE HENNA ARTIST
A REESE’S BOOK CLUB PICK
New York Times Bestseller * Los Angeles Times Bestseller * USA Today Bestseller * Toronto Star Bestseller * Globe & Mail Bestseller * Indie Bookstores Bestseller *Longlisted: First Novel, Center for Fiction * Amazon Summer 2020 Readers Pick * Goodreads Finalist Choice Awards 2020: Best Debut Novel & Best Historical Fiction * Indigo 10 Best Books of 2020 * Cosmopolitan Best Audiobooks of 2020 * BookRiot Best Books of 2020
“Captivated me from the first chapter to the last page.”
“Romantic, old-time Rajasthan leaps to life… I can hardly wait for Alka Joshi’s next masterpiece.” –Sujata Massey, internationally bestselling author of The Widows of Malabar Hill
“Rich in detail and bright with tastes and textures, . ..a fabulous glimpse into Indian culture of the 1950s.”–Bookpage, Starred Review
“Eloquent debut…moving… Joshi masterfully balances a yearning for self-discovery with the need for familial love.” –Publishers Weekly
“Joshi has constructed a bewitching glimpse into the past with a tough heroine well worth cheering on.”–Booklist
“Vibrant characters, evocative imagery, and sumptuous prose create an unforgetable tale.”–Christian Science Monitor
Writer On The Shelf
Alka Joshi is a graduate of Stanford University and received her MFA from the California College of the Arts. She has worked as an advertising copywriter, a marketing consultant and an illustrator. Alka was born in India, in the state of Rajasthan. Her family moved to the USA when she was nine, and she now lives on California’s Monterey Peninsula with her husband and two misbehaving pups. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur is her second novel.
Visit her website and blog at http://www.thehennartist.com