Our Books

historical fiction books | historical romance books
Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages
Vanitha Sankaran
Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages
Publish Date: March 27, 2010
Available: Paperback, Ebook

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 magnificent debut by Vanitha Sankaran—an atmospheric and compelling novel about the search for identity, the power of self-expression, and value of the written word, set during the dark days of the Inquisition in Medieval France. Readers who were captivated by The Illuminator by Brenda Rickman Vantrease or Geraldine Brooks’s People of the Book will be enthralled by this thrilling journey to a colorful and dangerous past.

Shop This Book



Barnes & Noble

A recent trend in historical fiction is the immersion of multifaceted female protagonists into a trade or profession. Sankaran follows suit by introducing another strong female character into the genre. Born an albino in medieval France, Auda endures a dreadful experience: her tongue is amputated by a healer’s apprentice who believes she has been cursed by the devil. Unable to speak, she is an avid reader and writer who masters her father’s craft as a papermaker at a time when the Church, suspicious of independent thought and communication, tightly controls and monitors access to parchment. When Auda gives voice to her passions through her poetry, both she and her father become victims of the Inquisition. Sankaran deftly illuminates a time of intellectual darkness in this superbly rendered debut.  —Margaret Flanagan, Booklist

“Watermark is a powerful novel about the destructive forces unleashed by ignorance and superstition.  Readers will care deeply for the courageous Auda.” —New York Times bestselling author Sharon Kay Penman