Do you remember what it was like to be a child? Imagine for a moment if you will dear reader how your seven-year old self used to view the world. Every tree was a new place to climb and nothing but sun, fresh air and fun took up your day. Life was so, so much more simple. We were innocent and young, with not a single care in the world. Well…except little things maybe, like how long would our daisy chains last before they slowly withered and died? However even then we managed to turn that into a positive. More of a reason to make more daisy chains and set up a shop in the front garden! How did we do that? It was so easy to put the world to rights. Our parents were our heroes and we wondered how could they be so brave and fearless. But what happens when their mask slowly starts to slip and children are exposed to the horrors and darkness of the world. The fairy tale crumbles away and children start to realise that there is no prince charming to save them, there is no happy ending. Is there?
I have a captivating book for you this week dear readers. One that speaks from a young and carefree heart slowly drowning in a cold black sea of despair.
Thank you to Leonora Meriel for sending me a copy of her book The Woman Behind The Waterfall. I was intrigued after reading her guest blog post which you can read here. A lot of the themes spoke to me and I do love a bit of magical realism. How can you not? It’s a snow globe of opportunity. All you have to do is take hold and be willing to shake things up a bit. Watch the chaos descend into pretty white calming snowflakes. Bliss.
Set against the gorgeous backdrop of western Ukraine, The Woman Behind the Waterfall tells the story of how one day seven-year old Angela sees her mother crying. Angela wonders why her mother is so sad and if can she help. Along with her nightspirit and grandmother, can Angela show her mother a way back to happiness? She soon uncovers untold family secrets but will she be quick enough to save her mother from an ill-fated end?
The strong themes presented in this book made me realise that I am not as alone as I once thought. Depression is a big taboo topic and is often swept under the rug. There is much more awareness of mental health nowadays, however people do tend to turn a blind eye and are unsure of how to handle the situation should it arise. When people see Lyuda, Angela’s mother they look away and pretend not to notice. It is clear she is struggling with depression and turns to alcohol for comfort yet no one is sure of how to address it. The odd few people help her out now and then but she is mostly left alone with only her thoughts to consume her. Which speaking from experience, is not good. Lyuda struggles to come to terms with the way her life has turned out. The heartache weighs on her heart every day and she can no longer see through the thick fog consuming and clogging her throat, slowly choking her to death on faded memories. She blames herself and her choices. It is so incredibly hard to pick yourself up out of this vicious circle. It becomes natural to you, like breathing. You no longer know how to function without thinking these things. I appreciate Meriel for getting Lyuda’s character spot on, making her real. The feelings she has, how she sees things are all relatable to anyone who has suffered with depression and even suicidal thoughts. I applauded it as it’s extremely raw and realistic. You no longer feel quite so alone, there are people out there who feel just like you do.
“Why did I not die that night? she thinks, shaking her head. It would have been so easy. It would have been like breathing in and breathing out again. Just breathing in and then disappearing with that last breath, that simple movement of air.”
The love the grandmother, daughter and granddaughter all had for one another made my heart hurt. Three generations of women all bound to one another, two struggling to see the joy in life while the other is fighting to bring them back and see the world through her innocent eyes. It reminded me how sometimes we need the younger generation to give us a slap to remind us that life is what we make of it. That there will be tough days but we are not alone. Not ever. We have the trees, the wind, the flowers, all around us is life. So we should just close our eyes, take a deep breath and go for it. Live our life with joy and happiness. We all have something to live for, ourselves. We own us that much.
“There is happiness all around, I tell her. It is in every flower. It is in every breath.”
It is such a pleasure to read a story that not only can I relate to but also feel a part of. The narrative switches from first person through the eyes of Angela, to third when looking back on Lyuda’s past memories. Normally I would find these sort of changes confusing or question not sticking to the one narrative style, however it fitted perfectly with the flow of the story. In true magical realism form I was being transported from person to animal to reader to person. Effectively executed as I felt like I was floating up out of my body and watching parts of the story take place from above.
“I will break the rope. I do not know how I will do this but I know it is what I must do. The river is flooding with the tears of my generations.”
I adore the use of imagery especially when it’s done well in writing. Meriel’s stole my breath away. I could feel the warm soft soil beneath my feet, smell the honey cake cooking in the kitchen mixed with the fumes of fresh white paint. I heard Angela laughing as she played in the garden and the sound of the river cascading gently in the distance. One of the many things I love about reading is immersing myself into the writer’s world. How I can tell if they have fully captivated me is if I feel a gentle breeze on my face because the character has stepped outside. It’s a rare thing to find these days in any new authors I discover, but congratulations Leonora Meriel, you have passed my test and are indeed a talented writer. *Raises glass*
I was gripped and overcome with emotion for the love these strong women had for each other. The burdens they bore alone for so many years broke me. Going to need a week to recover I think, lots of doughnuts and tea should do it!
Check out the links below for more information on the author. Enjoy!
Website : www.leonorameriel.com
Tweeter : @leonora_meriel
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