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The Paradise Tree

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The Paradise Tree

Post  Elena on Thu May 29, 2014 9:10 pm

My new novel is coming out in October. There will be a blog tour beginning October 4: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/theparadisetreeblogtour/

Do visit my website for more information. http://planetrussell.net/emvidal2/?page_id=267


More here: http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-past-and-present-mingle.html

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Re: The Paradise Tree

Post  Elena on Sun Oct 05, 2014 7:53 pm

Announcing the release of my new novel The Paradise Tree from Mayapple Books. http://planetrussell.net/emvidal2/

From Tea at Trianon, http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2014/10/now-available.html:
It is with great pleasure that I announce the debut of my fourth novel, The Paradise Tree. From the Mayapple Books website:
 Mayapple Books announces the publication of The Paradise Tree: A Novel by Elena Maria Vidal. The Paradise Tree grows from the maxim “in every Eden, there dwells a serpent . . . .” 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 Fergus receives a piercing insight into what his own calling in life will be.

   The novel includes adult themes of struggles with addiction and depression, as well as the ordinary trials of parenthood and married life. The author took care to insure historical authenticity in portraying the way of life of early settlers in Ontario. Illustrations, an index, and a bibliography are included.
   The early reviews:
 
 “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

 
 “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 Canadian author of In Name Only and other novels

And here is a full length review from the Midwest Book Review:
 “The Paradise Tree opens in 1886 Ontario, where a clan mourns the death of family patriarch Daniel O'Connor, an Irish immigrant who has lead a tough life peppered with illness, battle and many struggles. Through it all Daniel and his wife have kept their faith and passed it on to a new generation; and now it's up to grandson Fergus to take these family values and move on.

   Readers seeking a spicy immigrant saga replete with Catholic faith and the search for spiritual and social freedom will find The Paradise Tree is just the ticket: it's historical fiction writing at its best, bringing alive not just the events of one man's life, but the underlying motivations, perceptions and struggles it embraces.Through Elena Maria Vidal's descriptions, the beliefs and driving force behind a devout Catholic immigrant's experiences comes to life with driving passages of color and passion defining the forces that ulti
mately compel an immigrant to leave his homeland for the unknown:
       During the night, the crash of the waves sounded through the chambers of Daniel's mind, speaking to him of another place, a faraway place mentioned in one of the old songs. The words urged themselves back into his memory:

       'There is a distant isle/Around which sea-horses glisten;/Let not your intoxication overcome thee; Begin a voyage across a clear sea...' Daniel thought of the legends of the western seas and the Blessed Otherworld, which even holy monks like St. Brendan had sought to find. An inexpressible yearning welled in the depths of his being, as if something indefinable called to him from far away.
  Poetic, lyrical passages skillfully capture these motivators, which range from social and political change to failed crops and specter of starvation and a clan's survival. No punches are pulled: this is also a story of addiction and depression: facets that many immigrant stories leave out when recounting struggles.

   In order to appreciate the present-day events, the past needs to be thoroughly explored. The Paradise Tree does an outstanding job of creating this link with its a history of an Irish heritage, passed on from a grandfather's tales to his young grandson.
  '...So harsh were the laws that many Protestant authorities would not enforce them, and looked the other way. The religious orders, the Franciscans, the Dominicans, and the Carmelites did not abandon us, but kept the faith of our people alive. They built tiny chapels, but those were few and far between. In my grandparents' day, Catholics went to Mass in private homes, at the back of the pub, or in the open fields at places called scathlans or Mass rocks. My parents went to hedge schools in the countryside, and the brave Presentation sisters taught many Irish children in and around Cork.' 'I suppose it would have been easier for the Irish if they had all become Protestants?' Fergie wondered. Now that he was going to school, he was acutely aware that not everyone in the world was Catholic. The grandfather chuckled at the idea, so unthinkable that it was humorous. 'Aye, easier to live, Fergie lad. Easier to live, but not easier to die.'

   As the lives of Daniel and his wife Bridget come to life, so are readers steeped in the culture, influences and motivations of a family unified by forces that invade their close-knit world and change the course of their lives.

   The Paradise Tree is a solid example of historical fiction at its best, illustrating the circumstances affecting its protagonists and capturing the drama of lives well lived. The fact that it's all based on the author's own family heritage ("...elements of The Paradise Tree were gleaned from private family papers and unpublished or privately published works, including assorted letters, newspaper clippings, and legal documents."), documenting how the author's family emigrated from Ireland to Canada, just makes it all the more compelling.

   ~ D. Donovan, eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

Now available internationally from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca .http://www.amazon.com/Paradise-Tree-Elena-Maria-Vidal/dp/1502448130/ref=la_B001KMO6C0_1_4_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412369777&sr=1-4

And please visit the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour of The Paradise Tree, hfvirtualbooktours.com/theparadisetreeblogtour/. Day 2 of the Tour features a guest post by me on Susan Heim on Writing. To quote:
 Due to the harsh penal laws imposed in 1695, Catholics could not own land, hold a public office, or receive an education. The O'Connors defied the laws to the best of their ability, and, according to Daniel's daughter Ellen, he and all of his siblings received a liberal education in spite of the prohibitions. (Read more,http://www.susanheimonwriting.com/2014/10/the-paradise-tree-book-tour-book-of.html.)

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Re: The Paradise Tree

Post  Elena on Tue Nov 25, 2014 9:16 pm

The book received a great deal of acclaim:

“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

"An Irish immigrant builds a new life in Canada, the decades marked by marriage, children and the odd otherworldly encounter....An imaginative, meticulously told history that will especially appeal to those with Irish roots." ~ from Kirkus Reviews

"This is a stunningly lovely book, the perfect thing to get lost in for an afternoon." ~from the San Francisco Book Review (starred review)

"...Historical fiction at its best" ~D.Donovan, eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

"Vidal does an excellent job of demonstrating the lifeline that the Catholic faith becomes for the O'Connor family and how it binds them together in the toughest of circumstances." ~Savvy Verse and Wit

"Weaving fact with fiction...realistic and stirring. An emotional tale of hardship, struggle to survive...with vivid descriptions of life in that place and time period. This book will appeal to those that like a good historical fiction story with depth and new beginnings." ~Just One More Chapter

"Vidal was able to write about devout Catholicism in a way that Protestants and other non-Catholics could follow." ~West Metro Mommy Reads

"The Paradise Tree by Elena Maria Vidal is a sweeping tale of an Irish-Canadian family that I happily dare to mention in the same breath as Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind" ~ from Back Porchervations

"As we journey through the years of the O'Connor family the author brings alive the joys, triumphs, struggles, and sorrows in such a vivid way that often you feel as though you are experiencing them yourself." ~Peeking Between the Pages

"Despite the sadness of many of the scenes, there is great charm in the lively portrayal of a family filled with love of learning and poetry. The hope of eternal life sustains Daniel, his wife and children through many tragedies. Joy continually mingles with sorrow." ~Cross of Laeken

"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."~A Book Geek

"The people in the story felt so real to me and almost like they could have also been my ancestors."~Book Drunkard

"I loved the historical perspective that Elena Maria Vidal presented in The Paradise Tree: A Novel. It was interesting and informative to learn about the Irish. Vidal's writing was engaging and the story was filled with heart, soul, family loyalty, history, and unexpected twists and turns. I enjoyed this beautiful story and recommend it." ~Book Nerd

"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 heroes 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 inside their paradise tree." ~Stephen's review of The Paradise Tree on Goodreads

Available on all the Amazons: http://www.amazon.com/The-Paradise-Tree-A-Novel/dp/1502448130/ref=as_sl_pc_ss_til?tag=httpteaattria-20&linkCode=w01&linkId=HVGPWGIBSGJISVSJ&creativeASIN=1502448130

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Re: The Paradise Tree

Post  Elena on Sat Dec 20, 2014 8:45 pm

http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2014/12/kirkus-best-of-2014.html
The Paradise Tree has been chosen by Kirkus as among the top 100 best books of 2014, and is among the top 20 best indie books. Here is their review, now included in the December 2014 edition of Kirkus reviews:
   
An Irish immigrant builds a new life in Canada, the decades marked by marriage, children and the odd otherworldly encounter.

   Vidal (Madame Royale, 2010, etc.) successfully transforms family stories into a historical novel that chronicles the life of her great-great-great-grandfather Daniel O’Connor, who established a homestead in Ontario in the 19th century. O’Connor, a blacksmith living in County Cork, Ireland, is frustrated in his desire to train as a doctor because of English laws restricting Catholics’ religious freedom and economic chances. When the political activities of his wild younger brother Owen cast suspicion on O’Connor, he flees Ireland, carrying just two mementos of his homeland—a white rosebush uprooted by his mother and a “paradise tree,” a wooden crucifix so called because it represents a ladder of suffering to climb to heaven. Nine years later, he has carved Long Point farm out of the wilderness, creating a home despite the new continent’s own anti-Catholic prejudice. He marries Brigit, a girl 18 years younger than he is, then almost loses her to Owen, who arrives at the farm after his own midnight departure from Eire. But when a vision of his mother appears to him, hands on hips, he finds the will to throw his brother out of the house and confront his bride. She sobs and swears she will die of shame, insisting, “ ‘Oh, yes, I will die. I will,’ she choked. ‘But fret not....I’ll be getting over it.’ ” And she does, bearing 11 children. The novel follows them as they grow to adulthood, marry and have children of their own, with each section of the book told through the eyes of a different character. Though the story unwinds slowly, it never drags.

   An imaginative, meticulously told history that will especially appeal to those with Irish roots.

Here is a recent review from the Portland Book Review http://portlandbookreview.com/the-paradise-tree-a-novel/:
Elena Maria Vidal’s The Paradise Tree is the haunting saga of the O’Connor family. The reader follows the life of blacksmith Daniel O’Connor, an Irish catholic who migrates to Canada in pursuit of economic and religious freedom. O’Connor flees Ireland with a rosebush and the “Paradise Tree,” a wooden crucifix. He begins a new life in Ontario, where he cultivates his home and raises a family in a new world fraught with its own sets problems—some old, some new.

A sprawling historical novel, told from multiple perspectives, The Paradise Tree takes us into the lives of the O’Connor family in a voice that is thorough and rich. Vidal’s writing is sensory and visceral. The reader feels as if she is a member of the O’Connor family, slunk in the corner watching, rooting for the characters, feeling for the characters, and taking on their conflicts, joys, and burdens. We are told the harrowing tale of the O’Connor family in scenes that we feel we are a part of, and when necessary, a narrative voice that moves the story to it’s bittersweet conclusion as we leap along in time with the family.

Vidal’s meticulous research brings the O’Connor’s’ world to life. Lush provocative details enrich the novel instead of distracting from it: “Time for the ceilidh!”…Patrick brought out his bodhran, a wide drum…The general idea of the ceilidh was that each member of the company would contribute to the entertainment of the others with a song, story, a dance, or recitation.” Vidal’s novel is rich with history. She manages to enlighten the reader of the customs, traditions, and folklore of the O’Connor family through factual anecdotes and observations, as well as poetry and song, while moving the story forward instead of bogging us down in showy, didactic details. Whether we are discovering the “shillelagh” wielding “Orangemen,” or sitting down to a goose roasted over a spit and smelling the simmering parsnips on Christmas Eve, we are given a thorough history lesson without the lectures, the notes, and—thank goodness—the exams.

The Paradise Tree does what good novels should. It tells us a story, it shows us what it means to be human—replete with the triumphs, sadness, and conflicts entailed in being human—while whisking us away to another world that is not our own. For 232 pages we are extracted from our lives and into the lives of the O’Connor family. We root for them. We feel their hardships. We feel their connection and disconnection as a family while we are shown a distant time and place, filled with potentially unfamiliar folkways. In the end we are pleasantly reminded that the O’Connors’ story is just as much ours as we traverse the familiar territory of faith, family, and love, and how we still find ourselves dancing in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Reviewed by Grant Miller

Other reviews:
http://sanfranciscobookreview.com/2014/10/the-paradise-tree/
http://www.midwestbookreview.com/mbw/oct_14.htm
http://www.learkentfool.com/?p=2663

Available from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Paradise-Tree-A-Novel/dp/1502448130

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