Thursday, April 1, 2010

Watermark- Vanitha Sankara

Vanitha Sankara
Avon, Apr 13 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780061849275

In 1300 in Narbonne, France, as her mother dies giving birth to her, Auda is born bone white to the horror of the healer and her apprentice. To prevent the infant from spreading the devil's words, the frightened apprentice viciously rips out Auda's tongue. However due to her father's occupation as a scribe, Auda learns to read and write.

By 1320, as a team father and daughter try to persuade those who use parchment to switch to the paper her dad invented. Shockingly, a Vicomtesse orders some of their stock and hires Auda as her scribe. At the palace, an artist saves Auda from a witch-hunt, but she begins to write heretical verse about women's rights that places her in further danger from an inquisition that already distrusts her albino skin as that of the devil.

Watermark is an entertaining medieval tale that looks deep into life in France by someone whose difference subjects her to ostracism and with little impetus potential burning at the stake. Along with the invention of a new type of paper (perhaps the mother of invention for the printing press), Watermark is Auda’s saga of surviving as a mute albino with a skill taboo for women. Although believability seems lacking at times, the survival adventures of Auda in fourteenth century France is an engaging character driven thriller.

Harriet Klausner

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