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 Inquisitor hunted down all those in any way related to the spreading of heresy...particularly through writings. Since the writing had to be done on some sort of paper or parchment, someone had to be providing this medium for the words and messages to be read...hence; a very troublesome time for Martin and his family.
Auda astutely communicated through sign language and writing. Eschewing an arranged marriage by her sister, Auda gets recognition to work as a scribe for the Vicomtesse- but there is danger lurking everywhere; particularly where the Vicomte is concerned...
As well, Auda needed to be covered at all times, not only because of her poor vision, but especially because of her looks- lest she would scare the ignorant, who passed her for a witch. Llife was incredibly difficult without her being able to communicate or show herself...How could she even contemplate love? And yet...
Watermark takes a hard look at the reality of a woman born under incredible circumstances. The 1300’s was no place of mercy;but rather one of fear, treachery and religious turmoil- nothing pretty about this place and time, especially if you were different in any way.
Still, Auda captured my heart with her brightness in all senses. Vanitha Sankaran is an excellent author. Her gentle description of Auda as splendidly magical helped to bring the character closer and more endearing. I was also fascinated by the whole papermaking process described perfectly. I had no idea of the depth of its importance and how crucial a ‘watermark’ could be.
I would describe this book as splendid in its harsh reality- and utterly tender in its portrayal of beauty running deeper than its surface.
Watermark is being released today- Get it. You won’t be disappointed.
I am entering this one in the Art History Reading Challenge, Women Unbound Challenge, 4 Month Challenge part 3, and Royal Reviews Historical Reading Challenge