Walmart # 572348160


Walmart # 572348160
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Fair-haired Auda has been

Fair-haired Auda has been mute since birth, and due to her strange looks and lack of speech, has been sequestered away from society for most of her life. Living as an assistant to her father, the paper maker, Auda dreams of one day penning her own work of art on her father's pages. Though Auda and her father lead a quiet existence, life in their bucolic French village is becoming increasingly fraught with unease, as some in the town are being accused of heresy against the Church. But Auda has more pressing problems, for her sister is contracting a marriage between the young girl and the town's unattractive miller, a situation that causes Auda no end of unease. In order to escape his attentions, she contracts herself to the vicomtesse as a scribe in the castle. As she spends her days copying poetry from the crumbling parchment of the past, Auda discovers that a group of inquisitors are bearing down on the village and that their intent is to burn those who they deem to be heretics. Soon Auda comes to realize that she and her father are in grave danger by the rumors of heresy swirling around the village, and that they may have to sacrifice everything to save themselves and the ones they love. Told with a bewitching style and voice, Watermark is a dark swirling tale of secrecy and fear, set in a time where being different can be deadly. From the moment I plunged into this tale, I realized that it was going to be a dark and treacherous ride. The story opens with the very dramatic scene of Auda's troublesome entrance into the world, leaving her motherless and disfigured. I knew just by this passage that Auda's life would be one fraught with difficulty and pain, and though there were some very joyous moments in the story, the tale lived up to my expectations. I liked Auda and felt a strange protectiveness throughout the story. She was, in essence, an intelligent innocent, unschooled in the ways of the world, yet still independent and brave. Though most of her life was spent hidden and isolated, she had the same dreams and wishes for herself that most young girls have: to find love, to be respected and valued in the community, and to practice her art. She was not the type of character to feel pity for because she never sunk into pity for herself, choosing instead to lead her life with wonder and acceptance. She had very strong family ties and I really liked the relationship between her father and herself. She was not only his apprentice but his friend and confidante, weathering the hardships of life right alongside of him. Their relationship was sharply contrasted with the relationship she had with her older sister, Poncia, who was always meddling and lecturing, trying to be the maternal force in Auda's life. I had a strong dislike for Poncia and felt her to be at times very cruel. Towards the middle of the book, Auda gets the chance to form a romantic relationship with a fellow artist. This was a nice aspect of the plot and tended to drown out the darker elements of the story, giving a nice balance to the narrative. As she begins to blossom in new ways, she grows beyond her small world of isolation and forges her way into the world surrounding her. The relationship between the two lovers was unique because it was not only forged in seduction and attraction, but also in mutual respect and admiration for one another's craft. Though the lovers have a difficult time rising above their situations and dangers, they are steadfastly loyal to one another and in the end are rewarded for it. I do wish that there had been a bit more focus on their relationship in the book because I really enjoyed reading about their times together and thought that it would be interesting to watch their relationship grow a bit more. There were also a lot of great inside details on the craft of papermaking in the book. It's a craft that I had been curious about but knew very little of. The details of paper making were imparted with a great deal of clarity and filled in the plot very nicely. So much about this type of artistry would probably be foreign to most readers, but it was all conveyed with enthusiasm by the author and made for very interesting reading and speculation. I had no idea that it was such a detail oriented craft and that it was not at all popular in its early days. The sections that dealt with the town's harassment by the inquisitors was truly frightening. Most of the suspected heretics were nothing of the kind, yet they were made to stand trial and torture and were most always executed, no matter what their level of guilt. It was in these sections that the story became gritty and raw. The fear of the Inquisition was a palpable vein running through the characters' lives and it seemed no one was safe from being arrested and burned in this town that had previously been peaceful and sheltered. This aspect of the plot felt very authentically documented and was thoroughly realized within the narrative, and at times, it was the crux of the story. Even the nobles of the town did not escape suspicion, though they were more capable of bartering themselves out of harm's way than most of the other villagers. I think that the author was amazingly adept at creating tension and fear in these scenes, and for me, these were the parts of the story that really stood out with distinction. This book had a great dark and foreboding atmosphere and some very moving and dramatic plot elements that gave the story an edge over most other historical fiction of this kind. At times though, I felt that the plot moved a bit slowly and in a more roundabout way than what I had been expecting, and I found at times that I had to be patient with the story. If you are the type who enjoys historical fiction that centers around lesser known times and events, I think this book might be of interest to you. Readers who enjoy courageous and independent female characters might also appreciate this book. Though the book was involving, it was not overly dense, and aside from the plot lagging at times, it was an entertaining read. There are also few surprises tucked into the narrative as well, which I think will draw its readers deep into the recesses of the story and give them something to ponder.

An albino in medieval Fra

An albino in medieval France was often thought to carry the Devil's Mark, and in a fit of fear and superstition, a midwife's assistant cuts off newly born Auda's tongue and renders her mute for life. Auda not only survives, but is loved by her father and sister, sheltered and protected against those who may wish her harm, and against the threat of the Inquisition seeking to burn heretics. Her father, a papermaker and scribe, teaches her to read and write. Her courage and intelligence bring her to the favorable attention of the vicomtesse of Narbonne. Her exposure to lyrics of previous troubadours inspire her to write her own stories. But fate has other things in store for our damsel, and she falls to into the hands of the Inquisitors and is accused of being a heretic. Will she find a way to survive or will she succumb? Will she find the love she craves and a life without fear? A good first novel, and in general it carried a good pace. I thought some of the characters could have done with more development, but on the whole, I liked it.

Watermark: A Novel of the

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 follows the early creation of paper using rags. The subsequent use of paper by the wealthy and the avoidance by the Church was fascinating to me and I couldn't get enough. Interweaved between these historical facts is Auda's story as a mute albino woman who doesn't want to marry and her efforts to survive and prosper in France during the 1300s. The novel also includes a short history of paper-making at the end, including a recipe for making paper. Watermark is an exciting read, laced with fear, danger and a love for paper, stories and verse. Perfect!

The novel, set in the 13t

The novel, set in the 13th century, starts as the protagonist's mother goes into labor. It's a difficult birth, and ultimately Auda has to be cut from the womb. The midwife discovers that Auda was born albino - surely a sign that she is the devil's spawn. While the mother dies on barn floor, the midwife runs to the river to kill the cursed child - but the midwife can't bring herself to drown the baby, so she cuts out its tongue instead. At that point, Auda's father Martin arrives on the scene and takes charge before more harm can come to his child. After the scene of Auda's birth, we skip forward in time and meet her again as a young woman. She's deeply invested in her father's paper-making business, although paper is slow to catch on. Most of the population is illiterate, and the nobles and churchmen who do read and write can afford higher-quality parchment made from animal skins. Furthermore, there's a stigma attached to paper because it has spread to Western Europe via Moorish Spain. These setbacks don't deter Martin and Auda - they believe paper will pave the way to a more literate populace and are unusually forward-thinking people devoted to the common good. Meanwhile, the Inquisition has kicked into high gear. The book is centered in Narbonne, near Carcassonne, where the Inquisitors violently suppressed the Cathar heresy. Auda in particular is in grave danger; as an albino, many superstitious locals already believe she is a witch. But that's not the only unusual thing about Auda. She's also literate - her father taught her to read and write so she could communicate without her tongue - and engaged in writing a book of herbal remedies. Later, she finds employment at the palace as a scribe where she gets into the habit of composing risqué poems for the amusement of the Vicomtesse and her friends - including a feisty feminist ballad in which a young maiden repels the advances of a lusty priest. In short, Auda is busily painting a gigantic bull's eye onto her forehead. Auda's sister Poncia is worried that Auda is in danger, so she tries to arrange a marriage between Auda and a wealthy miller. Poncia thinks that if Auda can lead a normal life, she will be less suspicious; she also worries about Auda's welfare upon their father Martin's death. Auda agrees to meet the miller, but he's fat, old, and worst of all - illiterate. She immediately turns down his suit, justifying her decision with rhetorical questions like "Why did everyone assume a woman had to marry and keep house?" or explaining, "To create a thing of beauty - was that not what everyone wanted? Poncia with hopes for a child, Martin with his paper. And Auda? All she had ever wanted was to find her voice." Somehow Auda was programmed with a 21st century feminist sensibility, despite the fact that she was born in the 13th century. Then Jaime appears on the scene. He's young and handsome, unlike the dreaded miller, and he's an artist. Jaime is a poor painter who makes religious portraits to order for noble patrons, but he also pursues a private passion for simple sketches of daily life. This is yet another anachronism in a book that bursts at the seams with historical inaccuracies - Jaime's passion for sketches of ugly fishwives and other commoners is several centuries ahead of his time. Auda and Jaime go on dates, and at one point Auda actually visits him in the room he's renting at a local brothel. The Inquisition does eventually catch up to Auda and Martin, and it's Poncia who points the finger. Martin is killed, but Jaime manages to bust Auda out of the city jail before her execution. The two flee Norbonne together and start a new life. There's not much to recommend THE WATERMARK. The writing is dull, and behind the eccentricity of a tongueless albino protagonist, the plotline is pure cliché: Auda is a proto-feminist who rejects the traditional role of women in favor of passion for her work and lover. Sankaran put some effort into research, but none of her characters act like they belong in the thirteenth century and at key points in the story, even the historical wallpaper peels away. Definitely a pass.

Auda's arrival into this

Auda's arrival into this world was tragic; during child birth her mother had to make the tough choice- save her own life or that of her newborn child. Now an adult, how did Auda's mother's decision to save her life put her in harm's way? Auda is raised by her father, a papermaker by profession, a somewhat new trade for the time. She spends her days away from the glaring eye of the public; Auda is mute and in an age of Inquisition, when superstition and ignorance overshadowed reason, her differences were seen as a threat. Now that she is a woman, her sister Poncia tries to arrange a marriage for Auda in an attempt to save her from the small mindedness, but it sets into motion a series of events that spiral out of control. Auda's attempts to be a good sister and daughter only make matters worse. Will she find love or will she lose everything near and dear to her? Great book about the Middle Ages! Religion, the Inquisition and the spread of the written word was a scary yet vital time in our history. The book centers on Auda but gives a good picture of expectations and assumptions during this time: class standing, the church and love. I found the book riveting and it kept me turning the page, it did feel a bit rushed at the end but the story is still solid. I would recommend to historical fiction fans, especially those interested in the medieval period.
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