22 June 2021
#2 Jaipur Trilogy
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 favors 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.
📖 My Thoughts..
Told in three voices, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur is a continuation of the story which began in The Henna Artist. It's now twelve years later and Lakshmi is settled in Shimla with Doctor Jay Kumar whilst her young protégé, Malik, now aged twenty, has returned to Jaipur to become an apprentice at the Facilities Office of the Jaipur Royal Palace during an exciting time in the construction of a prestigious cinema for Jaipur. The third voice is that of Nimmi, a young widow, who has left her hill tribe in order to create a new life for herself, and her young children, in Shimla. Her gentle beauty attracts the attention of Malik, only for them to be separated when Malik, on the advise of Lakshmi, makes his move to Jaipur.
The story is clearly told by each of the characters in turn and it is very definitely their distinct voices which come across, however, there are occasions when their stories overlap and this is what makes The Secret Keeper of Jaipur into such an interesting story. It was just as fascinating to be in Shimla with Lakshmi, and Nimmi, as it was to return to the pink city of Jaipur with Malik. The continuous drama and complicated twists and turns in the narrative affect the future for all those characters who we came to know so well in The Henna Artist.
After the success of The Henna Artist I worried that the The Secret Keeper of Jaipur wouldn't live up to my expectations but I needn't have worried as the story is every bit as enthralling as I wanted it to be and I am already looking forward to the third book in the trilogy. I am equally excited that the TV series of The Henna Artist is currently in production.
Thanks to the Borrow Box facility from my local library, I have listened to the unabridged audio version of this fascinating story, which is expertly narrated by Sneha Mathan, Ariyan Kassam and Deepa Samuel. Their wonderful interpretation really brings the story alive in the imagination.
Alka Joshi was born in India and raised in the U.S. since the age of nine. She has a BA from Stanford University and an MFA from California College of Arts. At age 62, Joshi released her debut novel, The Henna Artist, which immediately became a NYT bestseller, a Reese Witherspoon Book club pick, was Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and is being developed for a TV series. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur is its sequel.