Hannibal Free Public Library

The Henna Artist


Alka Joshi

March 14, 2022

2:00 – 3:30 p.m.


Discussion Questions

1. Lakshmi is such a strong and multifaceted character. What makes her that way? What are three things a great protagonist needs to truly standout?

2. Could Lakshmi have found another way to escape her abusive marriage? What do you think of the choices she made to change her circumstances?

 3. Should Lakshmi have tried to make her marriage work the second time around? Why or why not?

 4. What do you think Lakshmi has ultimately learned about herself and about her place in the world by the end of the novel?

 5. What do you see as the basic similarities and differences between Lakshmi and the Maharanis she works for? Who has more freedom? Who has more advantages?

 6. Lakshmi and Malik are very close, even though she is Hindu and he is Muslim. What does this say about the relationship between these two religions?

 7. What does the novel show about the caste system in 1950s India and people’s ability to navigate the rules and restrictions within it? Is this same caste system still in place today?

8. When Radha enters Lakshmi’s life, Lakshmi becomes responsible for raising her headstrong younger sister. Do her conflicts with Radha resonate with any of your experiences parenting teenagers?

 9. The lullaby that Lakshmi uses to test whether Radha is really her sister was composed by their father. If you were to create such a lullaby, what familial clues would you include to identify members of your circle?

10. Indian proverbs are used throughout the text to emphasize certain points in the novel. Do these sayings resonate with you or remind you of proverbs from your own upbringing? Do any in particular stick out in your mind?

Adapted from://www.bookclubbish.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/HC-1286_HennaArtist_ReadingGuide_final.pdf