Set in 1320 in a world full of superstition Auda is set apart from others by the fact that she is mute, an albino and strange for the time - knowledgeable of the written word. In an age of inquisition, the very fact that you are different is enough to be viewed with suspicion and distrust. Violence against anything new is the order of the day and the fact that Auda is determined to not just survive but also to flourish is a testament to her strong will and mind.
The book is hugely emotional and the first scene of the birth of Auda and its horrifying sequences set the tone for the whole story. Supported strongly by her father Auda reaches womanhood safely but it is at this time that she is tested again and again for the mere fact that she is different. The sheer determination to survive against overwhelming odds puts Auda in situations which would have drowned anyone else - the fear and panic of the inquisition, coupled with the loss of her father and the very fact that she was a young woman all alone make one root for her from the beginning.
Added to this is the detailed history of papermaking as well as how paper was made, step by step details of how paper was made, watermarks, their significance - I did not know that making paper was such a dangerous occupation till I read this book. Ignorance of the masses and how it was fostered further by those in authority was also a feature of this book. All done with ulterior motives of keeping people submissive and in their power of course.
A very heart warming read and one I was so very glad I got to (eventually)!