Title: The Woman Behind The Waterfall
Author: Leonora Meriel
Read: 3. Dec. 2017
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.
This book … is certainly something else. And I just can’t pin how I feel about it.
It tells the emotional and deep story of three women (Grandmother, Mother, and Daughter) and their struggle with loss, sadness, and darkness.
The writing style is … difficult to describe for me. It is very flowery and has some incredible lines. But I felt like the story was swallowed up and hidden by all the poetic writing.
‘In the night-time, the stars and the moon shine down on our garden. The moon traces the curve of my body where I was lying on the grass, recognising the white star that was there. It pours its light down into the mould of my body, and I, asleep in a springtime bed, fill with moonlight.’
I had a hard time with the first ten percent because honestly, I didn’t get it. It was .. what? Magical realism? Metaphors? Philosophical musings? (The synopsis made it sound more realistic than it is. A large part of the book follows Angela and her imagination?)
But after that, the story and the characters started to peek through and I was captured. I could really relate to some of this. Lyuda (The mother) is trapped in her own darkness and lives in her past. Angela (the daughter) sees and feels way more of that than her mother may think. Both are feelings I know all too well. And some scenes really touched me. Angela thinking she is the reason her mother has depression because she remembers her of her past mistakes.
Now, I said that the story gets lost sometimes in the magical. But I don’t know if the story would have captured me as much as it did if that element wasn’t in here. It somehow made the ‘real’ parts stand out more. It gave the book a lightness I loved.
And if I really let go I could immerse myself in the other parts as well (if they weren’t too long. Then they lost me) I’ve never before read ordinary everyday activities sound so mystical and mesmerizing. Nothing much really happens in this book but it captures your interest nevertheless.
I think my favorite part was where Lyuda is the focus of the book and we get to see what could have been. She was my favorite character. I could understand her so well and feel her sadness radiating off of her.
My favorite line:
‘If you hold on to the memories of what you were, you will become something that you are not.’
The Woman Behind the Waterfall is a book you have to dedicate time to. And you have to be in the right mood to immerse yourself in Leonora Meriel’s beautiful, haunting writing.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!