The Books of Elena Maria Vidal: Masterful Historical Fiction to Spark the Imagination and Stir the Soul

Brigit's Dream

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, award-winning Canadian author of In Name Only and other novels

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” ~ D. Donovan, eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

Now available internationally from

Mayapple Books announces the release of Elena Maria Vidal’s new novel:
The Night’s Dark Shade: A Novel of the Cathars

The Night's Dark Shade by Elena Maria Vidal

About The Night’s Dark Shade:

Set amid the turmoil of the Albigensian Crusade in thirteenth century France, THE NIGHT’S DARK SHADE tells of heresy versus orthodoxy, and of forbidden love versus fidelity. Heiress of her father’s estates in Auvergne, the orphaned Lady Raphaëlle leaves her home to marry a nobleman in a remote castle in the Pyrenees. There she encounters the mysterious Cathar sect who challenge all of her most deeply held beliefs. As she seeks the path of her true calling, she discovers hatred and betrayal, as well as abiding friendship and unexpected love.

O high and glorious King, O Light and Brightness true!
God of Power, Lord, suppose it pleases you,
Make my comrade welcome, and grant him all your aid.
For him I have not seen since fell the night’s dark shade,
and soon will come the dawn.
– from a twelfth century poem by Guirault de Bornheil

Lavish Praise for The Night’s Dark Shade:

Christine of Laudem Gloriae, who says:

“Elena Maria Vidal, author of Trianon, Madame Royale and, most recently, The Night’s Dark Shade, has a gift for writing beautifully while transporting one into past times and places and keeping one’s attention riveted as if there oneself.

In the 13th century, Catharism–”The Great Heresy”–had swept through Languedoc, France and gained a stronghold, its adherents of noble and common stock alike. The problem was so serious the Catholic Church had instituted a crusade against the heretics, who had drawn numbers of the faithful away by their esoteric teachings. Louis VIII, crowned in 1223, would lead the crusade, reclaiming Aquitaine and much of the southern territories and leaving to his heir, St. Louis IX, a Capetian reign that extended from England to the Mediterranean.

In the midst of this medieval landscape, enter the maiden Raphaëlle de Miramande, vicomtesse, protagonist of The Night’s Dark Shade, who, bereft of her father as well as her betrothed, both killed fighting alongside King Louis “the Lion” in the crusade, fears an unclear future. The Knights Hospitaller of St. John, that august military order whose members numbered the fiercest warriors against the Saracens, play a prominent part in this novel. Without giving away two much, two knights in particular represent opposite poles in young Raphaëlle’s moral life–on the one hand, duty, obligation, and fidelity, and on the other, passion and temptation….

The Night’s Dark Shade will be a book kept on the shelves of our family library, and will be mandatory reading for my little ones once they’ve gotten a bit older. Elena Maria Vidal has been gifted with an eye for historical detail, an energetic imagination, an elegant writing style, and a keen and informed faith, all of which blend attractively together in this her latest work.”

Author Stephanie Mann has also composed an insightful review. The following is an excerpt:

“Historical fiction is a fascinating genre because when done well it reveals truths about both the past and the present. It allows us to experience both what was unique to the era of its setting while recognizing what is universal in our humanity.

The Night’s Dark Shade: A Novel of the Cathars represents historical fiction done well, particularly when revealing the dangers of the Cathar movement in the 13th century and holding up a mirror to the 21st.

By telling the story of Raphaelle de Miramande’s encounter with a castle occupied by Cathars, especially with the Perfecta who may become the young heiress’ mother-in-law, Elena Maria Vidal bravely dramatizes the consequences of Cathar teaching. I say bravely because the Cathars or Albigensians are very often depicted as heroes for their opposition to the Catholic Church or as victims for their suffering in the Albigensian crusades against them in southern France—perhaps because their admirers sympathize with their sexual ethics and their Gnostic elitism….

Highly recommended for historical fiction buffs of any age for its plot, characterizations and often eloquently descriptive prose, The Night’s Dark Shade is particularly suited to young readers. Anyone who enjoys the genre, however, will revel in their escape into the world of 13th century southern France.”

The Night’s Dark Shade can be purchased from, and

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