Camel from Kyzylkum
In this memoir, the author narrates her life journey as an immigrant, a mother, a grandmother, and an independent woman from Ukraine to the Kyzylkum Desert of Uzbekistan (then a part of the Soviet Union), through Austria and Italy, all the way to the United States. Standing as a testament to her indomitable spirit and sheer willpower, the book tells us an inspiring tale of grit and endurance in the face of unforgettable hardships. Using a simple and engaging tone, Lara speaks about her own diverse experiences and leaves the readers spellbound with her quest for a better life.
Written during the pandemic year, this memoir is a genuinely heartwarming account of the various challenges the author faced and overcame during her life. Although one can argue about the linearity of the plot structure, a rough chronology is followed throughout the story, most of which flows uninterrupted in the form of flashbacks. This particular characteristic of the narrative makes it seem almost like a diary, recording the various emotional upheavals of the author’s journey rather than the individual events themselves.
Lara describes her personal ordeals with surprising candor. Starting with her process of immigration, her struggle to re-establish herself in a foreign country, and her effort to learn the new language. Readers then learn of her constant fight to bring her daughter from the Soviet Union to join her and the painful break from her family. She was left feeling betrayed and filled with grief. To finally accept reality and reach towards other sources of fulfillment, we accompany her on her travels and witness each phase of her life as they shape the person she has become today.
But unlike memoirs of great people, who always seem to be placed on a pedestal and therefore seem detached from our lives, Lara’s story touches us deeply because we can empathize with her. This is the story of an ordinary person like us. A woman who got uprooted from her birthplace and was forced to leave behind everything she knew as her own to try and build her future in a strange land surrounded by unknown people. Yet, ultimately, what makes it inspiring is that it is a story about never giving up.
Pages: 191 | ASIN : B09Y7GTZQS
Posted in Book Reviews, Five Stars
Tags: author, biogrphay, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, Camel from Kyzylkum, community and culture, ebook, emigrants, emigration, goodreads, Imigration, kindle, kobo, Lara Gelya, literature, memoir, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, ukraine, womens issues, writer, writing
An Exploration of Choices
The Woman Behind The Waterfall follows Angela as she struggles to help her mother find happiness while trying to avoid her dark past. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
When I started writing The Woman behind the Waterfall, I was at a crossroads in my life. I had turned 30, decided to leave my job running a business to write full-time, and had recently moved country to live in Barcelona. I was at a stage where I was evaluating what had happened in my life to date, and what I could consider mistakes or positive choices; also the example I was setting for my daughter, and the patterns I was consciously or not consciously following from my mother. Thus, the original idea was an exploration of choices and their consequences within the framework of generations. As the novel progressed, this developed into the wider theme of the search for happiness, and what happiness means at different ages and in different generations.
The writing in your story is very artful and creative. Was it a conscious effort to create a story in this fashion or is this style of writing reflective of your writing style in general?
I had always dreamed of being a writer, and at the age of 30, after many years of scribbling stories and poems, I decided to write full-time. This was my chance to create a novel that I hoped would be published and offered to the world. The language that came out when I wrote it was intensely poetic and full of dream and emotion. It wasn’t a style that I had written in previously, but it was the language that I found to express the story of the book – the generations and the regrets and choices, woven into the dream world of the subconscious.
As a contrast, in my second novel, I wanted to write in a style that was a clean, straightforward narrative. After the intense poetry of The Woman Behind the Waterfall, I wanted to focus on story and character rather than the beauty of the words.
Both Angela and her mother are both detailed characters that continue to develop in the story. What were the driving ideals behind the characters’ development throughout the story?
The character of Angela was intended to express the pure creative state that children exist in before their thought-patterns have been set by the surrounding world. I had observed in my own children this magical state when they hadn’t yet been told what was true and what was not, and so everything was possible. With Angela, I take this a step further and allow her to merge with the natural world. However, as the book progresses, she understands that she will lose this ability as she becomes an adult.
Lyuda, the mother, also goes through a transformation. She has been trapped in a debilitating depression and holds on for the sake of her daughter. When her daughter starts to see and be affected by this, Lyuda has to make a choice to come out of her internal world. This progression was really inspired by the idea of the things we pass on to our children, and the responsibility there is in being a parent, where each of your actions can create a pattern that can pass into your family for generations.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I published my second novel, The Unity Game, in May of this year, and I’m currently working on several projects which should be ready starting from 2019. The Unity Game was as different as possible to The Woman Behind the Waterfall, and is a speculative Science Fiction novel set in New York, a distant planet and an after-life dimension. It was a lot of fun to write and it has been getting some great feedback.
Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website
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.
Posted in Interviews
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The Woman Behind The Waterfall
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 clarity 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.
Pages: 264 | ASIN: B01M078MOF
Posted in Book Reviews, Five Stars
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Apples Don’t Sing – They Shine
Apples Don’t Sing–They Shine, by George Mardo, is a classic example of literary fiction. The story follows a family over generations from 1930 all the way to 1990. Some of the story does feel dated, but that might be because of historical events that frame the novel. In some ways, it is hard to simply summarize a novel that at its’ core deals with family drama of coming together in times of war and drifting apart after. Mainly it deals with Marie, a German immigrant and her struggles with her son and the family business.
Overall, Mardo does a great job with managing what would normally be an overly complicated or possibly self-indulgent topic to write on. The drama of an inter-generational story is more than enough for the reader to follow on and enjoy. The family does become expansive as it should through the decades, but remembering names and their relations can become cumbersome after a while. The conflict between the characters should be familiar to any reader who has a family and especially one that has first generation immigrants.
The story at times may seem U.S. centralized, but Mardo expands his scope by including a Ukrainian Monastery, family drama in England, and even venturing into South America. The global scale of his story enhances how far reaching and long the narrative is as we follow the rise and fall of family unity and how families change over the decades. As with any drama set over decades, the story can run the risk of being too brief or skimming over the details of the day to day. Mardo falls into this somewhat by giving us broad, quick snippets of events that happen. He sometimes jumps years ahead in the narrative to get to another point. He may have been able to do this with more skill to not create such choppy pacing, though it does lend to the novel’s biographical story of the families of the Nesbits and Reynolds.
In some ways, the main conflict involving the family’s business, Reynolds Enterprise, tends to become too central to what the novel is striving to be, an intimate tale of family and the relations that bind. The focus does seem to shift towards the end and recenter the novel, which is a saving grace.
This work is perfect for those that enjoy tales told over generations involving many different characters. A pure drama that is accessible to anyone of any age.
Pages: 204 | ASIN: B0190UKORY
Posted in Book Reviews, Three Stars
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