Watermark by Vanitha Sankaran – Book Review

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.

Buy this book from:
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound

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

This review was done with a book received from the publisher for this TLC book tour.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2010

13 comments to Watermark by Vanitha Sankaran – Book Review

  • Amy

    Sounds like a great book – I love the character Auda as you describe her, she sounds so well written. Why, if it doesn’t spoil anything, is the title watermark? Does that relate to her father’s paper making?

  • I don’t think I would have wanted to be a child-bearing woman back then. Can you imagine? I’ve seen a few of reviews of this and it does sound like a very insightful book. Nice job.

  • Yours is only the second review I’ve seen of this book and now I want to read it even more!

  • That sounds like an amazing story! I cannot imagine cutting anyone’s tongue out for any reason.

  • I totally agree with your remarks about Auda. I really loved her. Also? Kathy’s comments on my and your Watermark reviews crack me up.

  • I saw the book as being more about Auda, rather than the Good Men regardless of their role in the ending.

    I’m glad that you enjoyed this novel.

  • Clearly Kathy has not worked with some of the people I’ve worked with! I’m looking forward to reading about Auda soon.

  • oh, wow this book sounds amazing! Adding to my wishlist…

  • “I kept finding myself forgetting that she was mute and albino…because Auda was simply Auda, not her disabilities.” I LOVE THIS. I love when I forget a character has a disability until I’m reminded. In that case, I think the author has done their job. I think Vanitha would be thrilled with what you said here!

  • Knowing my lack of luck with medieval books, would you suggest I give this a try? I received a copy of this book but I’m on the fence about giving it a try.

  • I like the time period and after reading yours and other reviews, I am adding this to my TBR.

  • I enjoyed your review and you were able to put your finger on why the ending of the book felt so hurried and out of pace with the rest of it.

  • Jennifer Minetree

    I’ve just finished reading this book the other day and, to me, this was a decent reading material, however, I feel that there could be a lot more added to this story to make you really connect to the characters. At times it felt like emotions were rushed and gaps in the story bothered me. (I would post up a couple of examples but I do not want to spoil anything for anyone.)
    All in all, it was a nice story, but could have been better.
    When I am reading a book where I am just enthralled into the story it would be extremely difficult for me to put it down, however, with this I didn’t have any problems setting it aside.