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Tidewater Review by Anne Stinson

The Paradise Tree by Elena Maria Vidal. May Apple Books, St. Michaels, Mar yland. 235 pp. $13.09. Here’s a stor y about an Ir ish family that emigrated f rom the auld sod to Canada in the early 18 0 0 s , r o s e f r om p o ve r t y a nd scarce education to prosperity and keen intelligence, and left a host of family members to cherish the memory of their brave forebears. Elena Vidal, the author, is one of the direct descendants of the O’Connor clan. She’s also a keen historian for the family and its long settlement in the New World. After a stretch of some 200 years, Vidal has brought the Irish Catholic family to life again. She makes no claim that her story is an accurate account of the daily lives of the O’Connors, only that it is “historic fiction.” However it’s labeled, it’s as Irish as Paddy’s pig. The tale begins years before the great famine that peaked in 1845 when the potato har vest rot ted overnight in the fields. England had swallowed Ireland, and potatoes were the only crop Irish farm-

ers could save for their own tables. They had poor potato crops before, but never such a disaster as this one. Without potatoes, the Irish population starved while in London,Parliament looked away. Daniel O’Connor, Vidal’s great, great grandfather, and the major character in the book, was born in 1796 in County Cork, one of nine


May 2015 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times May 2015

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