Watermark by Vanitha Sankaran
Auda’s birth is a difficult one. Eventually the midwife is faced with the choice of either saving Elena (possibly), or her baby. In a somewhat graphic middle ages c-section, Auda is born and Elena dies. Not everyone is sure that the choice was the right one, however, as Auda is albino. A superstitious midwife’s assistant grabs baby Auda and runs to the river with her, slicing out her tongue and throwing it into the waters so she can no longer tell the devil’s lies.
Luckily for Auda, her father and older sister accept her for who she is. By the time she is reaching adulthood, though, things are becoming dangerous in southern France as the Inquisition is raging, hunting out the heretical Good Men. A father who is a papermaker in a time of parchment and a daughter who is a mute albino are bound to draw attention from the Inquisitors, so Auda’s father arranges for her the protection of the Vicomte’s household. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to protect someone considered so different.
Auda was a fantastic character. She had great depth and really came to life. I kept finding myself forgetting that she was mute and albino, not because Sankaran wrote anything that didn’t work with the continuity of the store, but because Auda was simply Auda, not her disabilities. Sure, when she walked through the market place or couldn’t communicate with people who couldn’t read her notes and didn’t understand her signing I would remember her lack of a tongue.
I loved the details about paper making and how controversial paper was, but I think that “Watermark” could have been a tighter novel if more about the Good Men was mentioned earlier in the book. They had so much to do with the climax of the action, but they seemed less than totally important during the first half of the novel. This resulted in the ending having a bit of a rushed feeling, because the Good Men swept into the plot and were central, then the book ended.
Despite having somewhat of a rushed ending, I think that “Watermark” is worth reading for the strength of Sankaran’s main character Auda, as well as for the details of paper making in France in the middle ages. Recommended.
I read this book as part of a TLC Book Tour. Check out some of the other tour hosts for more reviews. Links go to the host’s site, not to their specific review.
Monday, April 5th: Bibliofreak
Wednesday, April 7th: Savvy Verse & Wit
Thursday, April 8th: Serendipitous Reading
Monday, April 12th: Wordsmithonia
Tuesday, April 13th: Book Nerd Extraordinaire
Wednesday, April 14th: Rundpinne
Monday, April 19th: Raging Bibliomania
Wednesday, April 21st: Thoughts From an Evil Overlord
Thursday, April 22nd: Devourer of Books
Monday, April 26th: Café of Dreams
Tuesday, April 27th: Starting Fresh
Wednesday, April 28th: A Few More Pages
Thursday, April 29th: Reading, Writing, and Retirement