Whoever you are, wherever your people came from, and whatever you enjoy doing with your free time, I don’t hesitate for a moment to recommend purchasing Elena Maria Vidal’s latest historical fiction novel The Paradise Tree.
The book begins in mid-19th century Ireland around the time of the Great Famine, a time in Ireland when Irish Catholics were discriminated against and persecuted by British landowners and occupiers. Main character Daniel O’Connor (who is based upon the stories and descriptions of Vidal’s own great-great-great-grandfather) strikes off for a new and better life in the New World.And, it is better — well, at least, Daniel O’Connor and his bride, Brigit, don’t ever again know in Ontario, Canada, the pains of starvation they knew too well in Ireland. But, no new home one may find for one’s self and one’s family is ever exactly Eden, of course. And, no one’s family life is perfect and without strain, loss, or seasons of deep sadness. No man’s work is free of difficulty in this hard, fallen world. And, it seems, no culture or society is without its own forms of bigotry.Despite their tribulations throughout the years, the O’Connors’ family (a vibrant, large family of 11 children) is one which is primarily shaped and formed by deep and abiding religious faith, married love, family tenderness and fidelity. As well as a good deal of enjoyable Irish wit and wisdom, with a touch of fascinating “mystical” Irish folklore. Vidal’s description of Irish immigrant life brings deeper understanding of the background and experiences of my countless delightful and much-loved friends of Irish heritage.For me the quality of a book depends a great deal upon having likable, relatable characters. The Paradise Tree is filled with deeply likable characters about whom the reader comes to care very much, and desires to know better…and personally. It also has a few richly described dastardly characters.I can say from a personal perspective that this book is an inspiring read for those beginning their own families who desire to know just how Catholic families in generations past kept and handed down the Faith to their children and their children’s children.
Above all, the O’Connor story is of re-birth, carrying on and going forward in hope for the future with a faith that sustains. (Read more.)