Thursday, July 20, 2017

G834 Book Review of the woman behind the Waterfall by Leonora Meriel

Name of Book: The Woman Behind the Waterfall

Author: Leonora Meriel

ISBN: 978-1-911079-34-7

Publisher: Granite Cloud

Type of book:Ukraine, motherhood, mother/daughter relationship, depression, alcoholism, refusing help, friendship, death, alternative choices, love, shapeshifter, fantasy, magical realism, protection, struggles

Year it was published: 2011, 2016


Heartbreak and transformation in the beauty of a Ukrainian village

For seven-year old Angela, happiness is exploring the lush countryside around her home in western Ukraine. Her wild imagination takes her into birds and flowers, and into the waters of the river.

All that changes when, one morning, she sees her mother crying. As she tries to find out why, she is drawn on an extraordinary journey into the secrets of her family, and her mother's fateful choices.

Can Angela lead her mother back to happiness before her innocence is destroyed by the shadows of a dark past?

Beautiful, poetic and richly sensory, this is a tale that will haunt and lift its readers.

"A strange and beautiful novel" - Esther Freud, author of Mr Mac and Me, Hideous Kinky, Peeless Flats

"Readers looking for a classic tale of love and loss will be rewarded with an intoxicating world" - Kirkus Reviews


One of the main characters is a little seven year old girl, Angela, who can become part of the earth or a bird or someone else entirely. She can also communicate with her dead grandmother and there is something beautiful and special about her. Angela is dark haired and shares special connection with her family. She knows next to nothing about her father. Lyuda is beautiful, blonde haired single mother who has went through heartbreak and abandonment by Angela's birth father. She is an alcoholic and depressed and turns away help when she needs it the most. Sveta (character in the book, not me) is Lyuda's supportive friend who is very supportive of her friend and tries to help her get past depression and alcoholism. There are few other characters like Vova who sounds way too familiar to me for comfort as well as Zoroyana, Lyuda's mother and Angela's grandmother and Grisha, Zoryana's husband who did the best he could for his family.


The most important choice to make in life is to live


The story is both in third and first person narratives. Angela, the young seven year old daughter is using first person narrative while her mother, Lyuda as well as some other characters are using third person narrative. More than half of the story, up until the reader learns how Lyuda became a single mother, was confusing to me and is filled a lot with imagery, with people and so forth. I really liked Lyuda's story and could really relate to her character and how she felt about different things. Most of the time when the character is determined to be happy all of a sudden everything is roses and butterflies, but not in this story and I liked that Lyuda still struggled with bad things and with consequences of her actions in a realistic manner.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Leonora Meriel grew up in London and studied literature at the University of Edinburgh and Queen's University, Ontario. After a career in business in New York and Kyiv, she turned to writing full-time and has completed two novels: The Woman Behind the Waterfall and The Unity Game. SHe lives in Barcelona nad London and has two children. Read more about Leonora Meriel and her work at


I'll admit that I read the book awhile ago, but for some odd reason I kept procrastinating when it came to reviewing it. Not because a negative rating, but simply because I was likely waiting for something or a sign to tell me to go ahead and review it. When I reviewed Lilli de Jong, I realized that this is the moment I waited for. By an odd coincidence, this story also deals with being a single mother but unlike Lilli de Jong, this story has a lot more darker complex emotions of being a mother. The story is both a fantasy and realism, something extremely similar to Theresa of the New World by Sharman Apt Russell. The first half of the story, or perhaps more, I had trouble understanding what was going on, except that I wanted to keep on reading. When the story moves on to Angela's mother, Lyuda's mother and her tale of her failed first love, then the story began to make more sense, especially when Angela and the grandmother, Zoryana, attempt to help the struggling Lyuda with issues of alcoholism and depression. I admire that the book brought up the taboo issues and tried to gracefully tackle them in a land that looks down upon drugs, psychologists and psychiatrists. I really do think that this book will need to be re-read in order to fully understand what is going on.

This was given to me for an honest review

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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