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The Woman Behind the Waterfall

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  194 ratings  ·  130 reviews
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 e
Published October 1st 2016 by Granite Cloud
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Leonora Meriel Hello!

Thank you for your question. There is not a Ukrainian translation yet, but it will be the first language I translate into - maybe next year.


Thank you for your question. There is not a Ukrainian translation yet, but it will be the first language I translate into - maybe next year.

Have a lovely day,

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Average rating 3.74  · 
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Amalia Gkavea
‘’All my mistakes are my own.’’

This is a novel about having the ability to commit your own mistakes and learn that something good may come from ill choices. It is a novel about not giving in to despair and hardship, about ignoring all the do-gooders and obey your heart, no matter the consequences. It is a novel about love and acceptance and the sacred, eternal bond between a mother and a daughter. It is a bright example of Literary Fiction and one of the most poetic, ethereal novels I’ve rea
Zoe Mann
Oct 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
I wanted to love ' the Woman Behind the Waterfall' but I just "did not get it". I felt like I was reading someone's messy draft for a novel. None of it made sense or flowed for me. It reminded me of when someone is drunk/high and they begin to ramble about deep, spiritual ideas that doesn't make any sense to anyone else but themselves. After reading the reviews I am one of only a few who this book did not resonate with, so do not let my opinion stop you from reading this book if it sounds of int ...more
Canadian Reader
The opening chapters of Leonora Meriel’s dreamy novel, set in rural Bukovina—a region in southwest Ukraine that borders Romania and includes the Carpathian Mountains—introduce us to a young girl and her mother. Seven-year old Angela is responsive to the natural world. She is sensitive to the beauty of the lilac tree and the smell of the black earth. Her imagination lets her be a singing bird, and at night she travels above her small brick house with her protective Nightspirit (a guardian angel f ...more
Oct 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Thank you so much to booksgosocial via netgalley for sending me an ARC copy of the women behind the waterfall by Leonora Merial.

Not your happy feel good story.
A child shouldnt have to take the pain and burdens of the parents.
As a young girl she comes to her mother crying and thats when she starts to take all the pain and bad choices that her parents have made and hold on to them, to help them will hurt her but shes being a good daughter.
It was emotional and beautiful.
Lynda Dickson
Apr 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ages 16+
Shelves: adult
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 child
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Language is art. You don't believe me? Read the first page of Leonora Meriel's 'Woman Behind the Waterfall'. It is rarely you find a book that makes you feel and live through a character who may have little to do with your culture or background, and yet the potency of their world is inescapable as you get lost in Meriel's intricate weaving of narrative and language, plot and emotion, individual and culture.

I won't lie - this novel made me cry. Maybe it was because Meriel had voiced the deep-root
mari reiza
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A poetic, sensory book relating a story in rural Ukraine although it rings universal, about women's vitality, strength and wisdom through generations. Highly recommended ...more
Nora Eliana | Papertea & Bookflowers
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 curv
Paul Kearley
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This spring, the nights and days are stretching themselves out in a heart-beat sleep.

From the first page I knew I would love this book.

The rich and lyrical language of this book is told through the eyes of the child heroine takes you on a wonderful ride of innocence and generational love and raises the question, ‘If you had the option to go back and change something in your past, would you?’

Leonora Meriel has developed the distinct sense of prose and style that enriches the imagination of the r
Apr 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a deeply poetic and creative journey through the entwined lives of three generations of women. I loved the way Angela’s character fuses the vivacity of a young child with the spiritual wisdom of an old soul. A raw and sensitive novel which allows the reader to paint its powerful scenes on the canvas of their wildest imagination.
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Really enjoyed this book set in the west of Ukraine, recommended.
Herb Randall
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Woman Behind the Waterfall by Leonora Meriel is one of those rare books that lingers in my thoughts long after turning the last page. It’s the heartbreaking but ultimately redemptive story of seven-year old Angela, her mother, and the ties that bind them to generations past and future. Meriel’s novel rises above the all-too-common plight of women struggling to raise children alone with fanciful prose describing Angela’s (literal) flights of fancy. These beautiful passages describing Angela’s ...more
Nicole Curry
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was excited to start a book that was centered in a Ukrainian village! I had never read about this region before and love reading about new things and people. This is a women's fiction and deals with the complexities of women relationships within a family. The writing is lovely and fairy tale like. 7 year old Angela is a dreamer as am I so I could really relate to her view of the world. It was an emotional journey from start to finish and I felt as if I were right there experiencing it all! Can ...more
Alexey Orap
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A book with a soul! I've enjoyed reading it a lot (though I don't often read fiction books, but this one really moved me). ...more
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is a very unique story and with the power to draw readers in, making them forget about the world around them. As soon as I started reading this book nothing else existed for me. I simply couldn't put it down, so I recommend that you read it when you've enough spare time at hand.
It tells us a story of a little girl, Angela, who lives with her mother in the same house where her mother grew up. She has never met her father and is curious about his absence in their lives. However, she soon realiz
Marion Hill
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Does a child have to carry the burdens of the parents’ choices? Does a child have to take on the pain that a parent can not let go of? Can a child free a parent of the pain and burdens they have kept as a part of their identity?

Those aforementioned questions came to mind as I read The Woman Behind the Waterfall by Leonora Meriel. Meriel tells the story of Angela, a seven-year-old Ukrainian girl who comes upon her mother crying uncontrollably at the beginning of the novel. She learns that her mot
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Leonora does it again! Like all her novels, this book will nourish your soul. This is another must-read novel and I'm so glad I discovered it. This is the story of a child in a Ukraine village, and what a lovely story it is. Get ready to view the world from her dreamlike innocent eyes, take a soar in the sky as you become the bird, flow endlessly across realms as you merge into the river, turn into the lilac that permeates the air, become the magic that mends your mothers' heart. Follow the thre ...more
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I had mixed emotions while reading this book. It was an experience all of its own. On one hand I was memorized by the story as if it was part dream and part mystical. At the same time it was for these elements that I struggled at times to stay connected to the story. However, what kept me grounded was the characters...Angela, her mother, and grandmother. There was a strong connection between all of these women.

Angela represented joy. Her mother represented sadness. Her grandmother represented l
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow - great book! Love the language and the story - and really learnt a lot more about Ukraine - a country that currently all we hear about is war. I expected this to be a good read just by the cover and I can definitely say I was not disappointed. This is one book I will have to re-read and I am definitely recommending it to all my friends and relatives. So yeah this is a really really great book and incredibly deep and touching.
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Woman Behind the Waterfall
Angela is a seven-year-old girl living two lives. In one she can be anything; a flying bird, a blooming flower, or a frolicking stream. She can see what they see and feel what they feel. In her other life, she lives in a small town in Ukraine with her mother. In this story, we are shown just how much children see and feel. Angela knows that her mother is sad, she sees her mother crying and feels that she is to blame. With the help of her grandmother’s spirit, she se
Mike Russell
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Part I mainly focuses on the young girl and her connection with nature and the spirit world. It’s written in a unique style, with lots of short sentences and repetition, like we’re following the thoughts of a child.
It contains some truly beautiful scenes. My favourite deals with the death of a bird. It begins sadly and with apprehension, but Meriel manages to create a beautiful death scene with nothing negative about it whatsoever.
The mother in the book suffers severely with depression and this
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Woman Behind the Waterfall is a poetic and poignant novel about three generations of women in a Ukranian village. While I struggled a bit to get into the story at first, as soon as I got a grasp of the multi-layered narrative I was able to enjoy the beauty of it. Meriel's great strength is to evoke whole landscapes never before seen and keeping everything very real despite the undeniable magical streak of her world. As all good fantastical literature Meriel's novel offers a different view on ...more
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Warning - if you are looking for a fast pacing action thriller, this book NOT for you.

This is good literary fiction with language flowing like a slow river, with dangerous undercurrents, invisible to a naked eye in a broad daylight.
Author surprisingly well captures the pace of a rural village, the semi broken spirit of people, their weaknesses and strength.
Truly great story for those with eyes to hear and hearts to listen.

"... I merge my spirit into this form and then I start to draw the sta
Humay Mejidova
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: signed, owned
First, I'm grateful to Leonora Meriel for sending me a free copy of her book.
It was a kind of fiction I have never read before. Being a girl it was easier for me to relate to mother and daughter relationship in the book. There were some parts in the book that I got so emotional. To be honest even there were moments that I blamed Lyudmila for not forgetting the man who left her.
Another thing I liked the most about the book was nature descriptions.
In general I enjoyed The Woman behind the Waterf
Kirsty Bookworm86
Jun 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Stunning and mesmerising descriptions that painted a picture with words. Unfortunately, for me, the book didn't seem to flow well and at times became quite confusing. There were parts that I enjoyed and got stuck into, for example when Lyuda seen what her present may have been if she didn't have Angela. The book is filled with emotions and it was beautiful when I was into the story. Sadly due to me not being able to get stuck into more than half the book I feel I can only give 3 stars. However, ...more
Linda Lpp
Jun 08, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-tried-to-read
Just getting started but it certainly is poetic and to me fanciful. But will keep going...I know there is a story to come of this..
Well I find I'm skimming over pages to get finished sooner. Not my type of story sightings and conversations with previous generations.

Well I am not going to finish it. On to something else.
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ok can I just say how incredible this book is! I don't usually bother with reviews but this book really wowed me. The language just carries you into another world and that world is exciting and breathtaking. All the characters are so real and you can live through every emotion with them. I cried at the beauty and occasional sadness of this book. Please read this - you will not regret it. ...more
J.D. DeHart
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was beautifully written and included wonderful descriptions. Leonora Meriel has a unique voice and a talented way of spinning her words. A spell-binding literary work...and I don't use the word spellbinding often. ...more
Liliyana Shadowlyn
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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.
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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 ...more

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