Publication Date: September 19, 2014 CreateSpace
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Genre: Historical Fiction
The year is 1887 in Leeds County, Ontario. The O’Connor clan is gathering to mourn the loss of its patriarch Daniel O’Connor, an Irish immigrant. The story of Daniel and his wife Brigit is one of great hardships, including illness, ill-starred romances, war and political upheavals, as well as undying love and persevering faith. As Daniel is laid to rest, his grandson Fergus receives a piercing insight into what his own calling in life will be.
I have read two of Vidal's other novels and I enjoyed them. I think that The Paradise Tree is my favorite, though. I loved the family history aspect to the novel. I love researching my family history and am always intrigued when I get to read about others' family histories as well.
Vidal does a wonderful job of bringing the folklore, mythology, legend and history of Ireland into the story - Daniel O'Connor is patriarch of the family and continues to tell his children and grandchildren the story of the O'Connor family and their origins in Ireland. The stories his mother told him are passed down the generations and it continues to be part of the family story even after they have become established in Canada. Daniel's own tale of persecution and suffering due to the penal laws was heartbreaking and informative. This time period is a continuing interest of mine.
I really enjoyed getting to know the family members and the stories did feel like a family history - even though it has, of course, been fictionalized. I liked that Daniel worked so hard and patiently to establish his farm and to prepare for finding a wife so he could start a family. The times were very different from now, and the focus was less on love and more on suitability and stability. Even though some really terrible things happen to the family over the years, I got the sense of a security the family members felt within their family and in their faith.
I liked the frank manner that Vidal deals with the hardships and tragedies that happen. The pain is not trivialized, but is presented as part of a hard, but satisfying and worthy life spent striving to be the best they can be and fulfilling their responsibilities. There were also plenty of happy events, family celebrations, holidays, and always central to their lives was the strong faith they were all raised in. The descriptions of their strong, simple faith were heartwarming and fit in with the lives they led.
The Paradise Tree is one of those books that made me feel happy and secure while reading even though some really terrible things happened to the family. I always had the sense that they would persevere and thrive. The Paradise Tree is a sweeping family saga that I will be suggesting to my friends and family. It was such an enjoyable book.
Praise for The Paradise Tree"With this marvelous immigrant saga, Elena Maria Vidal reminds us why our forebears left the Old World for the New: for Faith, family, and freedom! Through three generations of an Irish clan in Canada, she invites us into their home for struggle and triumph, celebrations of joy and sorrow, music, feasting, and dancing. The Paradise Tree makes 'the past and present mingle and become one' for the reader’s great delight." --Stephanie A. Mann, author of Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation
“Elena Maria Vidal’s latest book, The Paradise Tree, is the fictionalized true story of the author’s devoutly Catholic ancestors who immigrated to Canada from Ireland. It is filled with rich detailed history recounting the hardships and joys of the 19th century O’Connor Family. Beautifully written with great attention to historical, geographical and religious accuracy, this fascinating and moving family saga is a treasure that I highly recommend!” ~Ellen Gable Hrkach, award-winning author of In Name Only and four other novels
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About the AuthorElena Maria Vidal grew up in the countryside outside of Frederick, Maryland, "fair as the garden of the Lord" as the poet Whittier said of it. As a child she read so many books that her mother had to put restrictions on her hours of reading. During her teenage years, she spent a great deal of her free time writing stories and short novels.
Elena graduated in 1984 from Hood College in Frederick with a BA in Psychology, and in 1985 from the State University of New York at Albany with an MA in Modern European History. In 1986, she joined the Secular Order of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Elena taught at the Frederick Visitation Academy and worked as a private tutor as well as teaching children's etiquette classes. During a trip to Austria in 1995 she visited the tomb of Empress Maria Theresa in the Capuchin crypt in Vienna. Afterwords she decided to finish a novel about Marie-Antoinette she had started writing ten years before but had put aside. In 1997 her first historical novel TRIANON was published by St. Michaels Press. In 2000, the sequel MADAME ROYALE was published, as well as the second edition of TRIANON, by The Neumann Press. Both books quickly found an international following which continues to this day. In 2010, the third edition of TRIANON and the second edition of MADAME ROYALE were released.
In November 2009, THE NIGHT'S DARK SHADE: A NOVEL OF THE CATHARS was published by Mayapple Books. The new historical novel deals with the controversial Albigensian Crusade in thirteenth century France. Elena has been a contributor to Canticle Magazine, Touchstone Magazine, The National Observer, and The American Conservative. In April 2009 she was a speaker at the Eucharistic Convention in Auckland, New Zealand. In August 2010 Elena spoke at The Catholc Writers Conference in Valley Forge, PA. She is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and the Eastern Shore Writers Association. She currently lives in Maryland with her family.
For more information please visit Elena's website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Other Titles by Elena Maria Vidal
Trianon: A Novel of Royal France
Madame Royale: A Novel
The Night's Dark Shade: A Novel of the Cathars
The Paradise Tree Blog Tour Schedule
Saturday, October 4
Review at Peeking Between the Pages
Sunday, October 5
Guest Post at Susan Heim on Writing
Monday, October 6
Review at Savvy Verse & Wit
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, October 7
Review at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, October 8
Review at West Metro Mommy
Thursday, October 9
Review & Interview at Back Porchervations
Friday, October 10
Review at Beth's Book Reviews
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books
Saturday, October 11
Interview at Supremacy & Survival
Sunday, October 12
Spotlight at Queen of All She Reads
Monday, October 13
Review at A Bibliotaph's Reviews
Tuesday, October 14
Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Wednesday, October 15
Review at A Book Geek
Interview at Caroline Wilson Writes
Thursday, October 16
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight at She is Too Fond of Books
Friday, October 17
Review at Dianne Ascroft Blog
Saturday, October 18
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Monday, October 20
Review at Book Drunkard