Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages
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 stunning debut –moving, compelling and illuminating. Vanitha Sankaran has magically captured the lost world of medieval France in all its social, religious and philosophical complexity, and done so with an admirable verve. Peopled with a wide array of compelling characters, Watermark is historical fiction at its best.” — David Liss, Author of The Devil’s Company and The Whiskey Rebels
“Watermark is a powerful novel about the destructive forces unleashed by ignorance and superstition. Readers will care deeply for the courageous Auda, who finds love where she least expects it, in the shadow of the Inquisition.” — New York Times bestselling Author Sharon Kay Penman
“Sankaran deftly illuminates a time of intellectual darkness in this superbly rendered debut.” — Booklist
“A beautiful look at the dangers of an intolerant yesterday… whose battles are still fought today.” — Erika Mailman, Author of The Witch’s Trinity
“A story that will keep the reader up at night…” — Laurel Corona, Author of The Four Seasons
“Authoritative and evocative in its use of historical detail, this stunning debut novel will transport readers to medieval France where evil lurks in unlikely places and love endures. Like the river Aude, for whom the novel’s unforgettable heroine is named, this story flows deep and dark and swift from its beginning to its powerful end.” — Brenda Rickman Vantrease, Author of The Illuminator
“This debut historical … has potential for book club discussions and will appeal to readers of medieval historical fiction.” — Library Journal
“An addictively engaging novel, set at a time when reading and writing bloomed—the dawn of papermaking. What book lover could resist?” — Nicole Mones, Author of Lost in Translation
“This engaging, clearly written novel pulls readers into a corner of the Middle Ages not often seen: fourteenth-century Narbonne, a city where fear and suspicion mingle with memories of southern France’s troubadour past. The descriptions of daily life in medieval Languedoc are tangible, lyrically phrased, and at times chillingly realistic. In recounting one woman’s journey to discover her literary voice, Vanitha Sankaran evokes a distant era with startling parallels to our time.” — Sarah Johnson Historical Novel Society, and Author of Historical Fiction: A Guide to the Genre
Vanitha Sankaran holds a BS in Optical Engineering, an MS and PhD in Biomedical Engineering, and an MFA in Writing from Antioch University. She has authored numerous prose pieces published both online and in print, served for 9 years as a founding editor of the journal flashquake, and chaired the 2013 Historical Novel Society Conference.
Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages, published by HarperCollins/Avon A in 2010, is her debut book of fiction. She is currently working on another historical novel, about printmaking in Renaissance Italy, and a YA fantasy.
If you have any questions or comments for Vanitha, her email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
She is happy to appear at local book group events, or to e-conference/call in for a distant event. Please email her to schedule, and check out the reading group guide for Watermark!