How do you know who you are if you don't know where you come from? In This Land of Plenty is an expansive American family saga set against the rich history of California. Selected as a Shelf Unbound Best Indie Top 100 Notable Book for 2020.
"...engaging story that inserts aspects of real-life West Coast history into these parallel narratives. The scope of the plot is admirable, and Tar's story is particularly compelling, as her feelings for a colonizer conflict with her anger at the destruction and assimilation of her people." --Kirkus Reviews
"...truly a treat for the mind."--Readers' Favorite Five Star Review
"...an invitation to not just accept but cherish the value and beauty of diversity. In this ambitious work, Smathers imparts the wisdom of studying the past in order to move more fully and sincerely into the future."--Publishers Weekly BookLife Review
When Nicole discovers through DNA reports that her ancestry is far different from the white, northern European background she thought was hers, she enlists the help of her great grandmother to investigate their roots despite protests from her father. The search takes Nicole and Great Gram into the attic of their historic San Francisco Victorian where the family's true history unfolds. Slowly the two women unravel the mysteries of their 250-year family tree, from California's native inhabitants and its earliest European colonizers through the generations to the Gold Rush. In This Land of Plenty is a meticulously researched and beautifully written historical fiction family saga that introduces a diverse cast of characters and the complex social issues that populate California's rich history while drawing a direct line to today's residents.
"In This Land of Plenty captures the complex dynamics of family, exploration and exploitation, and the necessary accommodation to circumstances without submission. Extraordinary accomplishment by the author."--Diana Y. Paul, Award-winning author, Things Unsaid
Fans of historical fiction will fall in love with this novel's:
*Strong research and vivid depictions of historic California
*Inspiration form the original Spanish soldiers on the Portola expedition to explore and settle Alta California
*Connections to the native Ohlone people and other tribes who populated the area for thousands of years, and to the De Anza settlers who walked eighteen hundred miles from Sinaloa to the San Francisco Bay
*Strong characters, and women, who are both relatable and fascinating
*Emphasis on the importance of family
In This Land of Plenty is perfect for book clubs or as a gift for the reader in your life.
About the Author
Mary Smathers grew up in Los Altos, California and graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Latin American Studies. She earned a Master’s degree in Education and another MA in Educational Administration and Policy Analysis from Stanford University. From 1983 to 2013, she worked in public schools throughout California as a high school teacher, administrator, teacher trainer, grant writer and educational entrepreneur, helping to found three education companies and a public charter school.
Since that time, she has focused on writing, reporting for a bilingual, regional Costa Rican newspaper and publishing her first work of fiction, Fertile Soil: Stories of the California Dream, in 2016. In This Land of Plenty, her debut novel was published in July, 2020. She divides her time between California’s Central Coast and the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, where she is at work chronicling the stories of subsequent generations in the Brennan/Castro family tree of In This Land of Plenty and developing a children’s book series featuring tropical and jungle animals.
Author Photo: (Optional---small image about 150 x 150
In this epic tale, Mary Smathers captures the grand sweep of California history from the arrival of the Spanish to 21st-century Silicon Valley through the bloodline of a single family. Secrets interweave with ambition, passion, betrayal, and upheaval as we follow the trail of Spanish, Franciscan, Mexican, and Californio settlement of a land that housed native peoples for thousands of years.
Who are the saints, who the sinners, and the question of how we repair ourselves pulses throughout this story. You’ll ache for some of these people, loathe others, and be left with much to ponder on the complexities of love, culture, and family. And then you’ll want to read a sequel.
Great story! Smathers ties the stories together beautifully and brings to life a lot of periods I'm only fairly familiar with. We all visit the California Missions, and we know the good and bad (now is a historical time when more of the shameful history is coming out), but her tales go so much deeper. Smathers’ research and writing captivated me, and I found myself caring for several of the characters. Really, really good!
— Mike Matthews, Superintendent, Manhattan Beach Unified School District, former AP US History teacher