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 and finds the O’Connor family mourning the loss of the family patriarch Daniel O’Connor. Although the story opens here as remembered by Daniel’s grandson Fergus the real story started many years before when Daniel immigrated to Canada to make a better life for himself. He does just that and even though it’s a struggle he eventually prospers and builds a good life for his family. It is in those years he meets his wife Brigit and they build a family but these years are not without struggles and hardships. The family deals with many illnesses, new love, marriages, and grandchildren. What always stayed constant was the faith and beliefs that held the O’Connor family together and it is these values that both Daniel and Brigit made sure to pass down to all of their children. Daniel was such a strong man with a wealth of determination and despite a rocky start with Brigit she proved herself to be the perfect wife for him. They were a family that valued their faith and education. They worked hard and continued to prosper and gained the respect of those around them. 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.
I love stories that tell of the Irish immigrating to Canada because I get to look back into the history of my own country. The Paradise Tree is rich in historical detail and beautifully written and I enjoyed the trip back in time. I think it’s wonderful that the author has family papers, letters, etc. that enabled her to create this richly told story of how her ancestor’s lives may have unfolded. Recommended for fans of historical fiction and for those who love stories of people who have immigrated to new countries as much as I do!