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The Paradise Tree

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  29 ratings  ·  11 reviews
The year is 1886 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 Fergu ...more
250 pages
Published October 2014 by Mayapple Books (first published September 19th 2014)
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Ellen Gable
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
​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​! ...more
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Originally posted at:

I’m pleased to be kicking of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour of The Paradise Tree by Elena Maria Vidal because it is a wonderful story! The Paradise Tree, based on the author’s own ancestors, takes us back in time to when many Irish Catholics were immigrating to Canada in search of a better life. Weaving fact with fiction it is a saga full of hardships, faith, family, and love.

The novel opens in 1887 in Leeds County, Ontario
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The author asked me to provide a back cover blurb and I read the book in manuscript, in proof copy, and in final published form. My blurb:

“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 pre
Dec 01, 2015 rated it did not like it
I went on a jag reading Vidal after Madame Royale. This is the third book I've read (Trianon was the other), and it will probably be the last. Unlike the story of Marie Antoinette and Marie Therese, Vidal has chosen her own family as the source of her literary inspiration. The net result reads like a first draft. Does she not have an editor? The prose is overwrought, the characters are simply limned, and the book collapses long before the patriarch of the O'Connors is put into the ground. There ...more
Amy Schisler
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Elena Maria Vidal has brought back to life the Irish Catholics who once migrated to Canada and, through their faith, lived and prospered in a new and rugged land. Their stories are richly told and will live on in this wonderful epic that, though told through fiction, reminds us that all of our ancestors' trials and tribulations are as relevant today as when they walked this land over one-hundred years ago. ...more
Brian Flynn
Nov 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is the first book I read by this author but I will definitely be reading more. With my paternal Grandfather having come over from Ireland, I was immediately sucked into the characters and location of the book. The importance of the family unit and their faith was something that I can identify with and frankly too many books and movies lack these days. Great read, looking forward to more from Elena Maria Vidal.
Christine Johnson
I enjoyed the story, but the characters could have been better developed. And it was so difficult to get into the story (beginning with the patriarch’s funeral made it hard for me to get hooked) – reading a recitation of the family’s glorious history in Ireland had little meaning yet. Perhaps because the author based this story on her own family’s history, she felt as if the characters were more developed than they were. But as an outsider, I had little-to-no understanding of their motivations. ...more
Kathleen Kelly
Oct 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Paradise Tree by Elena Maria Vidal is a story inspired by the author's great-great-great grandfather Daniel O'Connor. He is a young man who immigrated from Ireland in 1821. A very sad time I think for those left behind, even though I am sure most of the families wished the people good luck with the hopes that the person who immigrated sends for them. Doesn't always happen that way though. Daniel does not know if he will ever see his siblings and mother again. Daniel immigrated to Ontario, Ca ...more
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I love the fact that this book takes place near where I live, I've traveled through this area which brings a bit more life to the story.

Beginning in Ireland we get a taste of what life is like for Daniel and his family there. Then in 1821 he leaves his country (and family) behind to embark on a new life in Canada. Ontario isn't a heavy populated place at the time with many challenges right off the bat. Weaving fact with fiction I found this book hard to put down, it was realistic and stirring.
Leslie Miner
Dec 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
The author of this book mixes fact with fiction, and follows the life of Daniel O'Connor and his wife, Brigit, Catholic Irish immigrants during the 1800's. Their strong faith helped them persevere through so many challenges and is passed down to other generations.

I have neither an Irish nor Catholic background, but the author does a great job with details that it's not needed to enjoy the story. There are a lot of secondary characters in this book, which I found a little confusing at times, but
Oct 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A good historical fiction novel takes you back in time and presents the good, the bad and the ugly in a manner that informs and clarifies. A great historical fiction novel goes beyond that to lift up your soul as the heros and heroines overcome obstacles both man made and natural. The result is the reader is left open jawed amazed and transformed. This book is a great historical fiction novel. I wept with them, I laughed at them but most importantly, I felt privileged to be invited to gaze insid ...more
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Elena 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

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