Everything is so much simpler when you are young. The same is true for seven year old Angela. For her, the beauty of life comes in honey cake and lilac. The little girl lives in the lush Ukranian countryside and enjoys her neighbours, the sun and the big lilac tree in front of her house. Angela’s Mother, Lyuda slips into an alcohol induced depression while little Angela tries her best to understand the changing circumstances that seem to be unraveling around her.

One day Angela meets the spirit of her grandmother by the river. The spirit sends her home in order to awaken the memories her mother is clamping on to and to show her another reality. ( Trying not to give away too much is hard!! )


I picked this book up after a healthy run ( they are very rare ) and could not put it down. Meriel sketches an intoxicating world that is so detailed and lush you can almost touch it. Meriel’s style is very poetic and very well observed. Her vivid descriptions of the Romanian everyday life and the amazing country side made me long for a country I haven’t even been to.

Leonora told me in her interview that she had one of the local priests show her around the countryside and show her all the most beautiful places. This has influenced both the words and the scenes of this book so much. The descriptions are lush, poetic and you can almost smell the lilac tree.


The pages and the words suck you into an ethereal world full of magic and even when the story comes to an end it is very hard to let go. At times it might have been a tad too esoteric for me but I gladly scanned the pages looking for another hit of pure emotion or another strong scene describing the sometimes hard mother-daughter dynamic described in this book.

I highly recommend this book. It is absolutely fantastic. I would normally never read anything like this but I am so glad I did. The Woman Behind The Waterfall is an emotional journey through Ukraine and the mother-daughter bond. It is available in Waterstones and via Amazon.


This book was offered to me for free en exchange for a review.  All views are my own.