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Vanitha Sankaran
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3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  998 ratings  ·  180 reviews
n 1320, a minor papermaker moves to the small town of Narbonne in the south of France in the hopes of selling his cheap new wares. Writing, reading, and control of the more costly parchment supplies are under complete control of the Church, whose corruption is causing discontent and rebellion among the middle class. The small living he ekes out goes virtually unnoticed unt ...more
Trade Paperback
Published 2010 by Avon Books
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(showing 1-30 of 2,921)
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I felt this book had real potential in the beginning, but the author lacked the necessary skill to successfully weave the story and lead its characters to a satisfying conclusion. One of its most detrimental flaws was the lack of clear conflict, which was messy and muddled. The author also overlooked the opportunity to explore the relationship between Auda and Jaime, which felt pasted together for plot convenience. Ultimately, the bizarre motivation for the main character, Auda, throwing herself ...more
What a great year 2010 has been for historical fiction writer debuts! I have been really blown away by the shear awesomeness of these first timers and know that I will be reading them for years to come! And author Vanitha Sankaran is no exception.

Sankaran has painted an exquisite and beautiful tale about a mute Albino girl named Auda, who is the daughter of a papermaker in Narbonne, France in the 14th century. Born during a time of religious persecution and intense superstition, Auda’s afflictio
This is obviously a first novel, with a very straightforward story devoid of sidelines or surprises. Auda is the daughter of a papermaker in the south of France in 1320. She is albino and mute, independent and observant; she and her father get dangerously mixed up with the Cathars and, inevitably, the Inquisition.

The milieu of this book--the world of middling tradesman in southern France during the Avignon papacy--is the best part. Even in this author's inexperienced hands, the outlines of the t
Tara Chevrestt
Apr 19, 2010 Tara Chevrestt rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jenny, Misfit
I guess I'm the first person not to be jumping up and down with joy after reading this novel, a story about a mute abino girl who is the daughter of papermaker in the middle ages, but here goes..

First, what I didn't like: Poncia, Auda's sister. If that woman wasn't already getting slapped around, I would have jumped in there and slapped her around myself. Her and her self rightousness had me cringeing throughout the reading of this. Also, despite fascinating facts regarding early papermaking (l
I absolutely love strong women characters! This book was about a girl who, for a reason I won't reveal, was taught to read by her father who was a papermaker. She was born in the middle ages when women and commoners were not taught to read and when papermaking hadn't found it's foothold in Europe yet. It was a time when parchment was still being used by the Church and the nobles and when people were being tortured and killed because of heresy accusations.

The girl, Auda, who was different from b
In Watermark by Vanitha Sankaran, Auda has the misfortune to be born an albino. Ruled by superstition and religious fanaticism, the midwife's helper decides to cut out Auda's tongue so that she won't spread any of the devil's lies. With this dramatic opening, Sankaran plunges us into the Dark Ages, a time in which being physically and intellectually different are considered dangerous.

As she grows up, Auda is sheltered by her father and sister, who fear that someday the villagers will blame their
Lydia Presley
There were things I loved and things I didn't love about this book. I thought that Vanitha Sankaran did a wonderful job of setting up the story - the birth of Auda and death of her mother, Elena was heartbreaking and an eye-opening (if a bit predictable) method to open the story.

I loved the educational aspect of making paper and the way the story revolved around the tracts labeled as "heresy" and the connection that papermakers risked. I actually thought the historical aspect of this novel was t
Jun 24, 2010 Staci rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Staci by: Author
Shelves: 2010-reads
My Thoughts: I found this book to be absorbing and amazingly imaginative. The Middle Ages come to life with the street fairs, the smells of the unwashed bodies, and the sights of the monks, self-flagellating priests, beggars, and the ones who don't want to be noticed. Aude had two strikes against her from birth: being mute (by force) and also having albino traits. Being her during this time would have been unnerving to say the least. She spends much of her life just trying to blend in and to not ...more
This book has an amazing first half. I loved it. In chapter one I found myself aching to nurture and protect a newborn who had had her tongue cut out for being albino- a "devil child". You'll care for Auda from the start. Then the writing fell apart and I lost interest. The poor editing is is laughable, the hyper-focus on paper making is boring, the descriptive adultry scene is superfluous, as always. Lastly, Auda, spared from death and expected to do great things, doesn't do much beyond survivi ...more
I really need to stop reading books about the middle ages, because I latch onto the parts that aren't historically accurate and they ruin an entire book for me. With "Watermark," I couldn't get past the fact that the main character was 20 years old and her relatives kept saying that she was just getting to the age where she should be married. Huh??

Even though all of the details about paper making may have been well-researched (it's not something I know a ton about), couldn't Sankaran have done
Tony Ford
I did not enjoy this book, though the author is a good writer. She creates a believable setting and sympathetic characters with good dialogue. Looking at the other reviews, I think I'm the only male ever to read this book. I understand why. For most of the book, the main character just walks around and "feels" things, then writes some crap poetry. The last part of the book a little something happens, but most of the story lines are left dangling. Good author, but she needs to find a good story t ...more
Ryan G
I'm happy to report that I enjoyed this one for what it was, a look at a young woman's life in France during the Middle Ages. One thing that stood out about me in this book is something I rarely ever think all that much about. I'm always amazed when reading a book, fiction or non, that refers to the base supersition that the human race found itself living under in the past. I was horrified when the healer's assistant cuts Auda's tongue out right after she is born so she won't be able to sprend S ...more
Medieval France is a completely different world. A mother sacrifices herself to save her child, which turns out to be an albino. The nurse cuts out the child's tongue so that it can't speak any heretics or devilish words. The child survives and is called Auda. Auda's father is a paper maker and her sister is recently married. Auda has learned her letters and helps her father make the paper, though her sister wants her to marry and her father wants her to be happy and carry on his legacy. Life is ...more
Robin O'Brien
I liked this story and learning about what happened in France during this time in history. It was sad to learn how people of the church rejected others using christianity. It reminded me of the stories of the puritains in colonial days who acused people of being witches. I also enjoyed learning about the first days of paper making.
Loved, loved, loved this book. Set in France in the mid-1300s, amidst the Inquisition. The papermaker's daughter Auda is born under shocking circumstances that forever mark her. Despite the impediments of her birth, being female in a time when women are raised for the sole purpose of becoming wives and mothers, and living during a period of frightful fear mongering by and amongst religious groups, Auda steadfastly follows her own intellect, her own calling, and her own heart no matter what the p ...more
Very readable despite its time period of France in the Middle Ages. The characters were fairly well-developed and the plot much tauter than I originally thought. While it was supposed to be a
"woman's journey" type of book, it hewed closer to a portraiture in miniature of a society in transition and very human.

The conflict between the Roman Catholic/Jacobin church and the variant of heresy known as the Good Christians seemed to be portrayed in shades of grey instead of something more definitive.
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages by Vanitha Sankaran is set in 1320 in a small town in France. The main character is Auda, an albino girl thought to be a devil child from the moment she was born.

Auda is mute but can read and write having been raised by a papermaker. It's rare for women to read let alone write during this period, and Auda's striking features put her very existence in danger when the Inquisition comes to town.

If you love paper at all, you'll revel in this book as the plot fol
Elizabeth  (Thoughts From an Evil Overlord)
Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages is an interesting and compelling story that will entrance lovers of historical fiction, and hold the interest of readers who love a sweeping adventure. This debut novel brings an era of time to us of which little is known, the Dark Ages.
In 1320s France most people cannot read or write. But Auda, daughter of a paper maker, has been educated beyond the bounds of everyone in her village. Reading and learning the intricacies of her father's craft delight Auda, a
From my blog...

Watermark by Vanitha Sankaran is a beautifully scripted tale of a woman, born an albino, trying to get by in the Middle Ages during the time of the Inquisitions. The story begins in 1300 Narbonne, France with Elena struggling with a difficult birth and anxiously awaiting her husband Martin and their young daughter Poncia's return with a midwife, however it is a healer he returns with. Biatris sends her assistant to gather herbs while she assesses the situation, concluding she must
Jenny Q
Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5

From the Back Cover:

The daughter of a papermaker in a small French village in the year 1320 - mute from birth and forced to shun normal society - young Auda finds solace and escape in the wonder of the written word. Believed to be cursed by those who embrace ignorance and superstition, Auda's very survival is a testament to the strength of her spirit. But this is an age of Inquisition and intolerance, when difference and defiance are punishable "sins" and new ideas are
What could life possibly be like for a young girl in the 1300’s born albino, and mute because she was butchered at birth? Watermark begins with this atrociously brutal episode and pulls you into the incredible world of Auda.
Auda lived in Narbonne with her sister and father-tragically, her mother died giving birth to her. Her father, Martin, was a papermaker during a time of controversy where heretics were burned at the stake for writing and spreading falsities about religion and the Faith. The I
This is a first novel by a new author of promise. She has written a superb, historically accurate and tantalizing novel of the Middle Ages. It takes place in France in the medieval town of Narbonne. It is also the time period when the Inquisition was being enacted instilling fear in all the land. Auda is born an albino and must hide her features from the public view as Inquisitors are frequently about looking for witches. Those who see her are afraid of her appearance and with the superstition o ...more
Tom Bryant
I've read too much popular fiction, and so I struggled to get through a historical novel. Even so, one walks away from "Watermark" with a good perspective of how superstition ruled people's beliefs in the Middle Ages.
Set in France, the story focuses on Auda, a young girl who was born an albino. Her mother dies giving birth to her. Believing such a birth to be a curse, a healer's apprentice cuts out Auda's tongue to keep her from speaking the lies of Satan. Auda is raised by her father who is a p
Read for jan. 2012 Mt. Tabor bookgroup.

Having taken a book binding class and having made paper, I was intrigued by this book. Subject matter wise, the Inquisition while advances were being made and people were starting to gain education through cheaper bookmaking methods is all very rich and should have yielded a five star book.

However, this was not a five star-- though it was good. In general, books that include horrific birth scenes (especially ones that are promoting false history and promote
My rating of this book changed the more I got into it. I thought at first it was a four, but changed my mind about half way through. I

The things I really liked about this book are: The historical background. It takes place during the Inquisition in France in the 1300s. It was interesting to me to learn about "The Church" and heresy. I also liked Auda, and the silent strength that she showed during such horrible circumstances. I liked the strength she found through those that she loved, and also
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Vanitha Sankaran's Watermark is a beautifully written piece of historical fiction that will completely immerse you in the story within the first few pages. Auda is a unique and interesting character and it is impossible not to be immediately drawn into her life. Her struggles are the same struggles universal to women of the time period, but are amplified by her physical and educational differences. Auda and the other characters in Watermark are realistic and well-written, and come to vivid life ...more
An engrossing, insightful and delightfully addicting novel of life during the 1300's. Watermark is the story of a young girl whose mother died giving birth to her. If that isn't difficult enough, she is born albino, thought to be an evil child of the devil, and has her tongue cut from her mouth shortly after birth, by a midwife's apprentice.

Growing up in the security of her older sister and loving father, Auda soon grows into a world that endangers her life, simply because she is different. The
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Watermark is a story that I was caught up in right from the very first chapter. The author doesn’t mess around here, you fall head first into an emotion filled scene that sets the pace for the rest of the book. I knew right from that first chapter that I had to read this book and if the remaining pages were like the first few, I was going to love it.

Auda is a unique narrator like I have never read before. Sometimes you will have interior monologue just because the author wants to write this way,
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