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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Book Review: Watermark by Vanitha Sankaran

Watermark by Vanitha Sankaran
Paperback, 336 pages
Avon A
April 3, 2010
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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from Publisher for Review
“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 considered damnable heresy. When darkness descends upon her world, Auda—newly grown to womanhood—is forced to flee, setting off on a remarkable quest to discover love and a new sense of self . . . and to reclaim her heritage and the small glory of her father's art.”
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, but in this case, Auda is mute and the only way we can understand what is going on in her head is to be in her head. The author was really able to capture all of the emotions that are running through her mind throughout the story – panic, fear, confusion, first love, strength of character. I also really enjoyed seeing the way she interacted with others – from her own language with her father and sister, to the wax tablets with her employer, and unspoken language with her first love. Even though she couldn’t speak, the author was able to convey what Auda wanted to say in other ways. My hats off to you!

As I said earlier, this book just takes off and continues to flow from beginning to end. It was amazing how much ground you would cover in a short time (be it actual page count or events that happen in the novel). One of the aspects that really move the plot along was the Inquisition. I have found that novels that focus on the Inquisition tend to develop quickly because of the fear and panic that often accompany the story.

A pleasant surprise in this novel was the indepth exploration of the process of papermaking. Auda helps her father in his paper workshop and we get to learn the steps that go into making paper, the strengths and weakness of paper at that time, how watermarks work, the significance of watermarks, and the difference between paper and parchment. I never expected to learn so much about paper from this book. The author certainly put in a lot of time researching the subject and was able to convey it in a way that was interesting and not just a statement of facts.

This novel will certainly pull at your heart-strings and having you feeling for Auda and her family throughout. I hope that you will love this novel as much as I did.

If you want to get sucked into this book take a look at the excerpt or the trailer below. This is the author’s debut novel.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia 

Find Vanitha Sankaran: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. I've had this book on my TBR for a while! I might have to find this one and get to reading!

  2. Wonderful review! I love the concept of this book, it sounds very original and quite enchanting. I am convinced, this book is going on my wishlist.

  3. Ladies - I think you will certainly enjoy it!

  4. I read this one last year and for the most part I really enjoyed it. My only quibble with it was I felt the end was a little rushed.

    It was only my 2nd attempt with historical fictoin after starting my blog and it's the book that helped me decide that I should give the genre a chance every now and then.

  5. Ryan G - I'm glad this book gave you a hook to historical fiction. I too felt the ending was a little rushed, but it didn't damage the story for me.

  6. I have this one on my TBR shelf and really must get to it.

  7. Librarypat - this one sat on my shelf for quite a few months - and I had really enjoyed the sample I had read of it, I just never felt like reading it. But it is SO good and will suck you right in.


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