Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Belfry of Bruges

Different views of the Belfry 2

Here are two poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on the beautiful city and belfry of Bruges,   Carillon and The Belfry of Bruges.  

Belfort (8172406558)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Paradise Tree

The Paradise Tree is the fourth novel published by Elena Maria Vidal, who has been a kind friend to this blog.  In Trianon and Madame Royale, she meditated on the lives of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and their family during the tragic times of the French Revolution.  In The Night's Dark Shade, she created an imaginative, moving story of a young noblewoman struggling to be a good Catholic and a faithful bride during another tragic and complicated period, the Albigensian Crusade.  In The Paradise Tree, Elena Maria Vidal returns once again to the themes of religious persecution, love and sacrifice.

This time, Vidal shares with us some of her own family history, focusing on the life and legacy of one of her Irish forebears, Daniel O'Connor, his beloved wife Brigit, and their large family.   As a young man, Daniel is forced to flee his homeland to Canada in order to survive without betraying his faith.  In his new country, he founds a wonderful family, stricken by terrible sufferings and hardships, poverty, illness, exile and bereavement,  but bravely persevering and triumphing over many misfortunes, with an almost regal sense of personal dignity.

A strong sense of mortality permeates the story.  There are some particularly harrowing descriptions of the deaths of children.   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.  Happily, though, after many years of pain and struggle, Daniel and Brigit are richly blessed in their beautiful family.

(NOTE: This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for my honest opinion).