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Medieval France is no place to be born albino: when Auda emerges from the womb undercooked and white as bone, an ignorant healer's apprentice tears out the child's tongue to keep her from spread[ing] the devil's lies. Though her mother dies in childbirth, a small stroke of luck graces Auda's childhood: her father makes his living as a scribe and a papermaker, so she learns reading and writing to compensate for her inability to speak. Together, father and daughter work to make his experimental paper the new standard for France's writing stock (replacing parchment); against the odds, they field an order from the local vicomtesse, who then takes on Auda as her personal scribe. At the palace, Auda grows more independent and finds romance with an artist who saves her from a witch-hunting mob. When Auda begins writing potentially heretical verse about women's empowerment, however, she tempts fate and the inquisition, setting off a chain of unlikely events. Though improbable plot twists detract, Sankaran has created a likable, easy-to-root-for protagonist in Auda. (Apr.)
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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 FlanaganSee all Editorial Reviews
Read this book as a Bookclub selection, but we were all disappointed. Historically confusing and not very realistic in terms of the character development. Read morePublished 3 months ago by JBurk
Entertaining and educational. I would recommend this book to all historical fiction fans but with a warning...there are graphic descriptions regarding the Inquisition.Published 8 months ago by Judy
A captivating story. The characters are empathetic and believable. The story ends too soon and I find myself wanting to read more about the young couple. Read morePublished 13 months ago by tnb_inpt
I love historical fiction, though I tend to be a bit picky as to what era and location that fiction takes place in. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Irishgal
This book had a very interesting premise. Many times, I do end up reading historical fiction in which the heroine breaks the gender barrier, and it is all in good fun because,... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Jen Adams
I bought this book on a whim, thinking that the title sounded interesting . I got so much more than I had bargained for! Read morePublished 21 months ago by MusingCrow
Extremely well-written, this is a tale of Auda, a young mute woman during the Middle Ages whose appearance (I never was quite sure if she was albino or not) made the villagers... Read morePublished on September 14, 2013 by DST
I loved this book. Historical fiction is my absolute favorite genre and this is one of those books that reminds me why. Read morePublished on April 15, 2013 by Colleen Bontrager