Hello again! I have decided to introduce you to a wonderful little novel that I found recently. I first read it about a month and a half ago and now just had to re-read it again. The story has so much depth to it, and the prose is very personal. It just sucks you in.
Though the back cover says “Fiction,” I would almost say it has the feel of a “Historical Fiction” novel. The title? Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages.
Written by Vanitha Sankaran, a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and M.F.A. in creative writing, this book enfolds you in the world of Auda, a papermaker’s daughter living in early 14th-Century France. Being a papermaker was no easy feat in those times, since few people wanted to buy it. Parchment was the stationary of choice among those who knew their letters. However, with parchment prices high, some of the nobility turned their thoughts to a cheaper alternative. That is, so long as it was just as durable, dependable, and nice-looking as parchment. (As a side-note, since the characters re-used scrap linen and not the hides of animals, it was more eco-friendly!)
With the Church, a high influence over local politics, decried the use of paper, it became dangerous. Especially so when heretics, enemies of the Church, were using it to spread unholy, twisted, improper interpretations of the Holy Book.
Poor Auda has another reason to fear the Church’s Inquisitors. She was born an albino. White hair, white skin, reddish-pink eyes, and a petite frame all gave her the appearance of a “White Witch.” Someone to be hunted down and burned in such superstitious times. An added burden? She knew her letters and had her own stories to tell… stories not looked kindly upon by the Church. When heretics burn in neighboring towns, will she be safe?
Now that I have set the stage, you will have to read the book for the rest.
A well-written novel, Watermark details the politics of the times, and the dangers of mixing ignorance and superstition. Perhaps the story tells more than the tale, but a lesson to be applied to current times. And a fun, easy read.
I’ll admit that there are some liberties taken in the historical aspect of the novel. This is, after all, fiction. I hope this inspires you to do some research on your own about the times, however, and leads you to learn new things.