Watermark weaves an intricate tale in the shadow of dark forces that once held sway over the Church and through which a young woman blossoms and carves her path in the world out of love and sacrifice.
"'For crimes of heresy and thoughts against our Church,' he began, 'the condemned who have repented are forthwith instructed to wear the yellow cross of the heretic upon their clothes at all times, so all may know their crimes and trust or mistrust their words and deeds as is just.' He brandished a parchment roll and read off names followed by crimes in his sonorous voice. Relief rose in cries after each name.
Auda watched the archbishop's mouth move. More than ever, he seemed like a puppet." (Page 298 of ARC)
Auda is a mute Albino living in France during the 1300s at the time of the inquisition when heresy and witches are seen even among the innocent. Her father is a papermaker and her sister, Poncia, is a young wife of a merchant in Narbonne, a prospering and sheltered city. Innocent activities in Narbonne can be misconstrued into heresy by those who dislike you, misunderstand you, or simply wish to be devoid of suspicion. Making paper and providing it to anyone, rather than parchment to nobles and the church, is unwise, but Auda and her father have unflappable dreams. Auda wants her voice to be heard -- clearly and loudly -- despite her disability, but already she is an anomaly being a woman of letters.
"'The Italians and the Spainards have sold their broadsheets for years,' her father said, glancing at Auda. 'The Church has done nothing --'
'Because Her eyes are fixed on France.'
'Oc, because France houses her pope, not because of any heresy!' His voice rose. 'Even if paper brought cause for concern, that doesn't put me in the same barrel as witches and heretics.'" (Page 189 of ARC)
Rising fortunes bring her to the forefront of society after being sheltered since her mother's passing, but can Auda handle what is to come, how her life will change, and where her conviction will lead? Watermark transports readers to a time when many in France were carefully watching their own actions and those of their neighbors, looking for sinister subtleties in their behaviors. It will emotionally tug at the heartstrings as Auda learns to come into her own, makes adult decisions, and learns that even simple actions can have hefty consequences and that love can transcend the physical. One of the best books of the year!
Vanitha Sankaran holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University. In addition, her short stories have been published in numerous journals, such as Mindprints, Futures, Prose Ax, and The Midnight Mind. She is at work on her second novel, which is about printmaking in Italy during the High Renaissance.
Check out the rest of her TLC Book Tour here.
Also don't forget to check out the next stop on the National Poetry Month Blog Tour at Reading Frenzy with Edgar Allan Poe.
This is my 23rd book for the 2010 New Authors Challenge.
FTC Disclosure: Thanks to TLC Book Tours, HarperCollins for sending me a free copy of Watermark for review. Clicking on title and image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page; No purchase necessary, though appreciated.
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