The Woman Behind The Waterfall

The Woman Behind The Waterfall

by Leonora Meriel


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781911079231
Publisher: Leonora Butenko
Publication date: 10/01/2016
Pages: 262
Sales rank: 1,214,576
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.59(d)

About the Author

Leonora Meriel is the author of The Unity Game (published May 2017, Granite Cloud) called an "ambitious and thought-provoking novel" by Kirkus Reviews. Her debut novel The Woman Behind the Waterfall (October 2016) was hailed as "strange and beautiful" by writer Esther Freud, "a literary work of art" by Richmond Magazine and "an intoxicating world" by Kirkus Reviews. She is one of a select group of independent authors chosen by Waterstones - the leading bookshop chain in the UK - to be stocked nationwide.

Leonora grew up in London but has lived in New York, Kyiv and Barcelona. She worked in business and then as an entrepreneur, before turning to writing full-time. Read her full biography at

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The Woman Behind The Waterfall 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
JC70563 More than 1 year ago
This was such an interesting and beautifully written book. It’s not the sort of thing you can breeze though. You have to be in a state of mind to immerse yourself in Angela and her mother’s world. The story is about a mother-daughter relationship and how they view themselves, and life in general. The mom, Lyuda, is still stuck in her past a lot and the relationship she lost. Angela comes to find out that although her mom is depressed, her mom is glad that she is in her life. I liked that Angela traveled to the spirit realm and spoke with her grandmother there. The book was very poetic and beautifully written. A great, haunting story of the love between mother and daughter.
Literary_Titan More than 1 year ago
Lyuda was a lovely seventeen-year old girl with a potentially bright future. This was until she met Vova and the course of her life changed forever. Later, Vova would leave her orphaned and with a baby to care for. She was in pain and alone but she had a child. This meant she could not cry openly. Therefore, she tried to find momentary happiness at the bottom of a glass of Samohon. Angela is a happy child. She is blissfully unaware of the harsh realities of life. She often wanders in her imagination without a care in the world. What does a seven-year-old girl have to worry about anyway? One day her night spirit appeared and warned her of an impending darkness. She did not understand this but the meaning soon became apparent. With the help of her grandmother, she embarks on a mission to make her mother happy again. Her mother needs to be reminded of the joy she derives from having Angela in her life. When all is said and done, Angela can finally grow up without being held back by her mother’s past. She can move on out of the dark envelope that is her mother’s mistakes. Leonora Meriel successfully evokes intense emotion with this book. It is so sad and devastating to watch a child wish to be happy but hold themselves back to cater to their parent. She writes with vivid and details the excruciating struggles Lyuda goes through. The author’s description of the Ukrainian countryside transports the reader to Lyuda’s little house with the lilacs outside. The Woman Behind the Waterfall is a good book about a mother’s desire to maintain her sanity. Not for her own sake but for the sake of her child. Not enough stories explain, in heart wrenching detail, the struggle that mothers go through. Especially single mothers. This novel, to me, was told with an air of reverence. I'm always looking for books that take me beyond the words and transports me into new characters with interesting stories to tell. What you'll find here is a story about people and passion and the moments that test both of them. This book will leave you in tears. The story will ignite an urge to hug your mother and express appreciation for all the times she gave up her own life for yours.
Aphrael More than 1 year ago
The relationship between mother and daughter is a beautiful and complicated thing. The Woman Behind the Waterfall by Leonora Meriel focuses on the relationship between Zoryana, Lyuda and Angela; three generations of women living in Ukraine, in the town of Bukovina. This is the story of mothers’ wanting a better life for their daughters than they had. It is a story of depression, suffering, and a small little girl that can transfer her spirt into the creatures around her to experience more of life and speak with her dead grandmother. The ability to speak with her grandmother Zoryana’s spirit allows Angela to see her mother’s sadness and together they will work to try and bring Lyuda out of her depression before it is too late for her. Reading this novel was bittersweet. The innocence of Angela warms your soul. Her raw curiosity and emotions really take you into the mind of a seven year old girl growing up without a care to the harshness of the world. Her flights into other animals, especially birds, originally sound like imaginative play, but for this novel, her spirit really does move between and she experiences the things of the creatures she takes on. One such trip she enters the body of a bird that is about to be killed by a cat. It is here she learns of death and understands what it is. She finds death to be a comfort and natural step in the process of life. This ability allows her to talk to her dead grandmother Zoryana. Angela also realizes her mom is very sad, but doesn’t understand why and wants to fix it all for her. Her desire to want to fix things and notices there are things to be fix shows just how perceptive children are and that adults do not give them enough credit. Worked into the story as memories we learn why Lyuda is so sad and depressed. Her relationship with her own mom is rocky. What starts as typical teenage rebellion turns into life changing situations that carry lifelong repercussions. Zoryana was not happy in life with the mundane life she was living and wanted so much more for Lyuda. The issue is Lyuda wanted love and passion, a family and just be a mother. The saga of a mom wanting more for her daughter than she had and not settling for the traditional roles. As the mother of a daughter, I see so much of myself in this story, wanting my daughter to be better, to have more options, and the desire to make sure she doesn’t make the same mistakes I have made in life. Lyuda must navigate the world as a single mother in a small town in the Ukraine. She has few options in life, and the struggle is very apparent. The emotions, the depression, the love for Angela and longing for her mother are all conveyed with such passion and reality. It is a relatable story for the raw emotions, and desires women face daily even in the modern society. The Woman Behind the Waterfall will draw readers in with relatable characters and topics, it will haunt you with the stories and will stay with you long after you shut the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Angela is a young girl living in the picturesque countryside of Ukraine. She sees the splendor and connection in everything and spends her days wandering through her lush surroundings, lounging under lilac trees and communing with nature. Meanwhile, Lyuda, Angela’s mother, distraught at where her life choices have taken her and fuelled by daily vodka binges, slips into a deep depression. With the help of her grandmother, Zoryana, Angela must attempt to reveal the true beauty of the world to her mother. This is a story of three generations of women and the love that holds them all together. Leonora Meriel’s ‘The Woman Behind the Waterfall’ is a difficult book to define. If I were to pigeonhole it into a genre I would place it in the realm of magical realism, but it also falls under literary fiction. The book is primarily about love; how it can destroy us but also how it can save us, even when all hope seems lost. It is about the choices we make and the way that these seemingly meaningless decisions can have consequences that resonate through generations. There is a deeply spiritual cord running through the narrative concerning the past and memory, the ebb and flow of life and the notion that everything is connected. Major themes of womanhood and motherhood are beautifully illustrated, and Meriel poses interesting questions about the meaning and expectation of these things. Women are at the heart of the story, and the female characters are all nuanced and brilliantly drawn. Angela is the light of the novel, she is a joyful character and we see how wonderful life can be through her innocent eyes. The descriptions of Lyuda’s spiraling mental health and her depression as a kind of ‘darkness’ that keeps pulling her under are expertly done. Her painful internal monologues about paths not taken and her resulting regrets are devastatingly honest. Zoryana represents the wisdom and knowledge that come with time and symbolizes the poignant notion that love can be strong enough to last beyond the grave. Through her characters, Meriel expounds on how complex and sometimes heart-breaking the mother-daughter dynamic can be. The prose is where the book truly shines; it is lyrical and hypnotic, sensory and poetic. Meriel’s vivid and rich descriptions of nature and daily activities turn everyday banalities into something transcendental and put me into an almost meditative state! Although I really loved the lush language, it did become a little repetitive and cloying towards the end of the book, and I occasionally felt that it distracted from the plot slightly. The narrative is complex and non-linear, with both first and third-person narration and frequent movement between the three main characters. Despite the distinct and clear voices of the characters, I sometimes found this confusing. This book is perhaps too esoteric to appeal to everyone, and there were moments that I found perplexing, but it is a mesmerizing and strangely moving novel. I look forward to reading more from the mystical Meriel.
RaeCapri More than 1 year ago
Observing the world and all living things around us can be a visual form of poetry and that’s what I felt when reading the first couple chapters. Viewing life from a few different perspectives opens the mind to things we might’ve never thought of, until now. In “The Women Behind the Waterfall”, author Leonara Meriel guides her readers into understanding more about nature, seeing it for the beauty it really is, and embrace it as a new discovery. One moment you’re a little girl seeing her mother’s every move, through her eyes, the next minute you’re a swallow enjoying the perfect season for mating. I instantly got the sense that I’ve become these characters, an inner body experience that didn’t seem weird, simply based on the writing style of this talented author. Emotions and thoughts are not only seen, but heard, and felt by the environment, as if it were absorbing every instance of life whether good or bad. Angela’s mother, Lyuda, seems to have some pent-up sadness and regret of the decisions she’s made throughout her life. We also witness that the young girl, Angela has the ability to experience outer body instances, as a bird, and traveling while dreaming. It’s almost as if her family line is gifted with some type of ability to experience life beyond the boundaries of nature because there were moments of her spending time with her grandmother, although she wasn’t physically there. The author’s writing permits her readers to explore life from another creature’s perspective. The way she’s describing the surrounds of the characters provides a feeling as if we’re seeing it realistically. One character that piques my interest is Volodiya, Angela’s father because she’s curious to know everything about him, even though he’s currently not in her life. What I’ve noticed is the relationship between this mother and daughter, their love is so pure. There were moments when Lyuda would cry as she’s thinking about her past “mistakes” and when Angela senses something is wrong; she tries to comfort her mother while assuming blame for the way her mother feels. Even though people are only human and make mistakes, some do wish they’ve done things differently. They appreciate life lessons, along with whatever benefits or blessings they’ve received from their mistakes and accept both good and bad. I really enjoyed this book for its whimsical flow of writing and highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading words like as if it were poetry.
Tariya M More than 1 year ago
Angela is a precocious young girl growing up in a quaint town in Ukraine. She radiates innocence and finds joy in exploring the beautiful garden, forests, and rivers that surround her, sometimes taking on the persona of birds or the air itself to fully immerse herself in nature. Always observant, Angela realizes that grief is consuming her mother, Lyuda, and she cannot help but feel like she is the problem. Angela’s love for her mother drives her to seek advice from her grandmother’s spirit. Can Angela help her mother find peace? In The Woman Behind the Waterfall, Leonora Meriel crafts incredible descriptions of the Ukrainian landscape in a way that is almost poetic. She captures the sounds and colors of the world as Angela views it--everything from a star-filled night sky to the willow tree beside the cool river. Her ability to bring the setting to life also establishes the mood of the story and serves as a stark contrast to the immense storm of grief that surrounds Lyuda. Meriel shares Lyuda’s sadness in a way that makes the reader feel her grief as well. After falling for the much older Volodiya while still a teenager yet to finish school, Lyuda becomes pregnant with only the promise of Volodiya’s love for her and the disapproval of her mother. Soon after Lyuda gives birth to Angela, Lyuda’s mother passes away, and Volodiya, who is working hard to build a better life for himself and his family, decides that he cannot achieve his dreams with the burden of Lyuda and Angela and he leaves them. This sends Lyuda into a deep depression only eased by the relief of another drink of samohon. While Lyuda’s grief is great, observing the story from a child’s perspective is particularly crushing. Angela is a likeable character--curious about why her mother is so sad and earnest to help her because of her love for her. She mourns for Lyuda, and she is desperate to do whatever it takes to make her mother happy, as only a child can. It is so heartbreaking, it becomes difficult to read. The Woman Behind the Waterfall is a creative story that spans across time, space, and alternate realities, but this makes it hard to follow at times. It isn’t always clear who is speaking or what is really happening, especially when Angela is taking on a different form or visiting the spirit form of her grandmother. Meriel also weaves symbolism throughout the story, but this complicates the story and makes it difficult to understand, especially during key scenes of the novel. What first appears to be a story of the depression that surrounds a mother who is seemingly abandoned by everyone is really a story of the love shared by generations of women and how that love gives strength when needed. Leonora Meriel captures the beauty of daily life in Ukraine, the heartache of abandonment, the sadness of watching a loved one grieve, and an incredible love that crosses over from the afterlife in The Woman Behind the Waterfall. Recommended rating 4 out of 5 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Woman Behind the Waterfall is a story of a Ukrainian child, Angela, and her family, but this is not a children's story. At times, this book reminded me of the sadness of Anna Karenina, especially in its famous line, “Happy families are all alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Angela's family ends up being unhappy twice, for two different reasons. In the beginning, it is Angela and her mother, Lyuda, living in a lush Ukrainian farming valley. Angela's father is not immediately present, but Angela's life seems filled with happiness and joy. This bucolic bliss is disrupted one day when Angela sees her mother crying, and does not understand why. It takes the intervention of her Grandmother's spirit to understand what is going on around her and learn how to halt her mother's alcohol fueled spiral of depression. The principal character, Angela, does not seem like a “main character” in the traditional sense. The story is not always told from her perspective. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it is told in third person or through the eyes of a different character - mother or grandmother. More than once, the reader will see an event from more than one perspective, but in different parts of the book. This can be jarring, as there may not be any warning that the perspective or time-frame has changed, especially when the perspective shifts to a non-human character. In keeping with being a principal and not a main character, Angela does not get to make many meaningful decisions, and when she does, it is as if she is still just driven by fate and does not actually possess much in the way of agency. She is somewhat a character in the form of a classical hero archetype: a defining incident calls her from her comfortable existence, there are many personal trials along the way (not all of them hers), there are certainly visions of a sort, Angela meets with a goddess-figure (Grandmother's spirit), there is a magical journey of flight, and the synthesizing of the world she knew and the one in which she wants to live. The book is rich with symbolism: a flowing river, various flowers and birds, home construction, and the breaking of objects. At times, the inclusion of so much symbolism crowds out the action and development of the story. The scenes become complicated and confusing with implications, revelations, and hidden messages. The easiest symbols are the river and the flowers. The flowing river seems to represent the passage of time: past, present, and future. The flowers seem to represent a variety of emotions, mental states, and actions: innocence, love, pleasure, purity, remembrance, and sacrifice. Finally, to better understand the story and its deeper meanings, keep an eye out for certain events and study them carefully (whenever someone gives another person a flower, whenever Angela enters the river, and the jar of sour cream). The Woman Behind the Waterfall seems intended for Adult readers, not necessarily because of sex or violence, but because of its heavy emotional content. This book deals with severe depression, substance abuse, existential anxiety, and deep, personal loss. Some readers, especially younger ones, may be disturbed by the content. Overall, the book is a good, emotional read, but heavy on the symbolism and at times, a bit hard to follow. Generally, I would recommend it, if you want to read something that will make you think and feel.
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
Lyrical, evocative, mystical and odd, Leonora Meriel’s The Woman Behind The Waterfall reads like a novel crossed with poetry. It’s haunting and beautiful. Its meanings are sometimes obscure. And its flights of surreality might leave some readers behind. But it’s solidly grounded in time and place, and wound about with a genuine human need for life to have meaning and hope. Stars, starflowers and star paths are woven into a bridge across realities—perhaps a bridge to life after death, perhaps to the truth behind our limited vision. Hope’s rope is woven in experience and flawed by tears—another waterfall perhaps, behind which a despairing mother hides when not disguising herself behind the clear liquid of vodka. A child might see her grandmother, or might fly with the life of a bird. Hurts of the past might be seen through different eyes and change the future. And the Nightspirit glides. The Woman Behind The Waterfall is a thought-provoking tale, offering different views of choices and consequences, abuse and fear of abuse, even birth, life and death. Evocative details bring the Carpathian mountains to life. A poetic sense of magical realism pulls the reader through shifting times and realities. And a thread of silk might be strong enough after all. This is a beautifully told story, rewarding readers willing to accept that in poetry not everything will be clear. Disclosure: I was given an ecopy and I offer my honest review.
Dgunner254 More than 1 year ago
The Woman behind the Waterfall by Leonora Meriel People go through a variety of experiences that shape their adult future. Some of these experiences lead to growth and possession of valuable lessons. Others lead to depression, heartbreak and recurrent pain. These are the worst kind. Not only do they affect the carrier of the baggage but they also affect the people around them. Things are worse when some of the people around are children. Children are innocent. They look at the world with a pure mind. Children have the ability to trot around in their imaginations unencumbered by gross worldly experiences. Children are also perceptive. A child can tell when things are not right. As it is with human nature, they will do everything in their power to restore joy. In most cases, children will inevitably carry the cross of their parents’ unfortunate choices from the past. Angela is a happy go lucky seven-year-old girl. She likes to lie on the ground and let her imagination run away with her. She enjoys the smell of earth and sound of singing birds. She enjoys having conversations with her deceased grandmother. Angela is a happy child whose heart is melted by her mother’s touch and love. She finds her mother crying uncontrollably one day. She then embarks on a mission to help her mother let go of her past pain. She wants her mother to be happy again. Will Angela succeed in helping her mother heal? Will she maintain her freedom and happiness once she learns of her family’s secrets? The Woman behind the Waterfall is a story about three generations of women. The story highlights the plight of single motherhood. A woman struggling with her own demons, but still worrying sick everyday about her daughter. Lyuda tries to numb the pain with vodka but that I sonly a band-aid on her emotional wound. All the while, Angela’s grandmother’s soul tries to protect her light from her mother’s darkness. Leonora Meriel kicks off the book with a glimpse into Angela’s mind. The vivid description of the Ukrainian countryside plunges the reader deep into the book. The reader will smell the lilacs and hear the birds sing. The authors writing is wonderfully poetic sprinkled with beautiful Ukrainian words. It is a heartbreaking tale of love and loss. This is the kind of book that does not leave the reader’s mind long after it has been completed. The story haunts and awakens the mind. It is a sobering peek into depression and how it may affect the children when they have to carry the burden too. This starts as Angela’s story but it is really her mother’s. Children are the light in their mother’s lives. This is an endearing testament to that. The action is scantily spread and the author repeats Angela’s action of lying under the lilac tree. These, however, are not deterrent to a thorough enjoyment of this book. The reader will surely have a hard time putting this down and later suffer a severe ‘book-hangover’.
Liliyana More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written, with lyrical descriptions, The Woman Behind the Waterfall is a strange and wondrous tale of a little girl who goes in search of big secrets. You will be drawn into the beautiful surroundings, and feel the chill of the shadows looming just around the corner.
BooksDirect More than 1 year ago
Seven-year-old Angela is taken to flights of fancy, literally. Her spirit inhabits a bird, a flower, the river water, or the sky, and rises at night to dance with her Nightspirit protector and her dead grandmother's spirit. With their help, Angela struggles to bring her depressed, suicidal, alcoholic mother back from the brink. Will she succeed? This is a simple story, with a complex narrative, about three generations of women and the ties that bind them. It illustrates the sad reality that children often blame themselves for their parents' unhappiness. The author gives us a heartbreaking look at depression and the lasting effect it can have not only on the sufferer, but on all of those around them. The rich, poetic writing has a fairytale quality, with certain scenes reminiscent of the way Ophelia is depicted drowning amidst a tangle of flowers under the willow tree. The author evokes the smells, scents, sights, sensations, and tastes of the Ukrainian countryside, as well as giving us glimpses of the customs and language. This haunting tale will stay with you for a long time to come. Full blog post (6 April):