Book Review: Watermark – Vanitha Sankaran

Title: Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages
Author: Vanitha Sankaran
ISBN: 9780061849275
Pages: 368
Release Date: April 13, 2010
Publisher: Avon A
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

When Auda is born, she emerges from the womb with no color at all.  She is an albino, but in medieval France, the condition isn’t understood as a medical one and is instead seen as a mark of the devil.  As soon as she is delivered, the midwife’s apprentice cuts out her tongue in order to ensure that she can’t spread the devil’s words.

Years later, Auda is quickly approaching womanhood while helping her father with his paper making business.  When they receive word that the Inquisition is approaching their town of Narbonne, Auda’s family fears for her fate at the hands of the church.

Review:

Watermark is a well-written historical fiction debut, though its real strength lies in its main character.  Auda is very easy to love.  The reader can’t help but sympathize with her as she goes about her daily life, knowing she is different from everyone else and unable to speak.  Her father has raised her with independence, giving her the gift of words.  Since she can’t talk, writing has become her way of communicating with the world.  As a result, it’s crucial to her identity.  It’s wonderful to watch her grow more confident with her words and move towards true self-expression through writing.

The plight of an albino in the Middle Ages, during the time of the Inquisition, is one that I have never considered but find fascinating.  As a result, Watermark has a unique premise that I very much appreciate.  It’s nice to feel like you are reading something new when you pick up a book; it is refreshing and makes the novel as a whole more interesting.

Sankaran provides a lot of details about the art of making paper in Watermark, which added a crucial element to the story.  Part of the reason that words are so important to Auda is because of her father’s profession.  According to the author’s note at the end of the book, all the details about paper making are true.  It was nice to be able to learn something from this book, as the information provided is really interesting.

Watermark did have its flaws, namely that some of the twists and turns at the end of the book were difficult to believe, but it was a fun and interesting read that I definitely recommend for fans of historical fiction, especially if you are looking for something new within this Tudor-heavy genre.  Sankaran writes with confidence and ease, and does a wonderful job building her characters.  I’ll definitely be picking up her next novel.

Comments

  1. I like books involving the Inquisition. This is a new to me title and sounds like something I might pick up despite the flaws — if I ever get caught up with what I already own.

  2. I like books involving the Inquisition. This is a new to me title and sounds like something I might pick up despite the flaws — if I ever get caught up with what I already own.

  3. Sounds fascinating! I can’t imagine going through life without a tongue. Thinking about it makes me shudder.

  4. Sounds fascinating! I can’t imagine going through life without a tongue. Thinking about it makes me shudder.

  5. I was instantly intrigued with the cover, but the premise sounds fascinating. Thanks!

  6. I was instantly intrigued with the cover, but the premise sounds fascinating. Thanks!

  7. Definitely sounds like an interesting, different sort of historical fiction novel — and you’re right: that’s very much appreciated! The cover wouldn’t have gotten my attention but your review has. Thanks! 🙂

  8. Definitely sounds like an interesting, different sort of historical fiction novel — and you’re right: that’s very much appreciated! The cover wouldn’t have gotten my attention but your review has. Thanks! 🙂

  9. I really want to read this one.

  10. I really want to read this one.

  11. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one. I just started it, and so far, I really like the author’s writing style.

    –Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

  12. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one. I just started it, and so far, I really like the author’s writing style.

    –Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

  13. I’m not at all familiar with this one. Sounds really good!

  14. I’m not at all familiar with this one. Sounds really good!

  15. Just read and reviewed this one, and I liked it quite a bit. I did also feel that there were a few flaws, but overall it was a compelling and unique read. I really hated Auda’s sister by the end of the book though. Glad you enjoyed it too. I agree that the paper making facts were some of the best parts of the book.

  16. Just read and reviewed this one, and I liked it quite a bit. I did also feel that there were a few flaws, but overall it was a compelling and unique read. I really hated Auda’s sister by the end of the book though. Glad you enjoyed it too. I agree that the paper making facts were some of the best parts of the book.

  17. This sounds really interesting and completely different from anything I’ve seen lately. Will be wanting to read this one soon!

  18. This sounds really interesting and completely different from anything I’ve seen lately. Will be wanting to read this one soon!

  19. Have you read Twilight of Avalon? If so, how would you compare the two? I have a copy of this, but I have a hard time getting into medieval fiction. I’m wondering if I should even give this one a try.

  20. Have you read Twilight of Avalon? If so, how would you compare the two? I have a copy of this, but I have a hard time getting into medieval fiction. I’m wondering if I should even give this one a try.

  21. This sounds good, I’ll check my library.

  22. This sounds good, I’ll check my library.

  23. I really enjoyed this novel. I just loved Auda.

  24. I really enjoyed this novel. I just loved Auda.

  25. I recently received this book for review. Now that I’ve read your review, I’m even more intrigued with it!

  26. I recently received this book for review. Now that I’ve read your review, I’m even more intrigued with it!

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