Author, Writing Coach, Journalist
In this ambitious work, Smathers imparts the wisdom of studying the past in order to move more fully and sincerely into the future....This intriguing mix of history with a contemporary story of discovery and acceptance will powerfully move readers looking for narratives of the American melting pot.
--Publisher's Weekly BookLife Review
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....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.
--Larry Habegger, Executive Editor, Travelers’ Tales
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
Great story! Smathers' storytelling brilliantly brings to life periods of California history that most of us are only fairly familiar with. We all visit the California Missions and know some of the good and bad behind the missions, but her tales go so much deeper. The timing of her book is perfect, as we are living in the midst of a time when we are more ready than ever to face some of our shameful history. It was impossible for me to put the book down.
--Dr. Mike Matthews, Superintendent, Manhattan Beach USD, former AP US History teacher
If you like historical novels with strong plot lines that have both flash-backs and flash-forwards connecting the past to the present, this debut novel is for you.
--Dr. Larry Cuban, Emeritus Professor, Education, Stanford University
I can’t think of a better way to learn history than through such a readable and well-researched story populated with juicy characters set into a well-paced plot. She also shows how, despite huge differences in our backgrounds, we are all part of the same story.
--Dr. Christine Sleeter, Professor Emerita, Multi-Cultural Education, Cal State University, Monterey Bay
An engaging plot following families over generations is woven into a historical journey of the California clash between original Spanish settlers and native indigenous peoples.
--Dr. Michael Kirst, Emeritus Professor, Education/Business, Stanford University, former President, CA State Board of Education
A Family Saga through California’s Rich History…
When twenty something Nicole stumbles on DNA reports that document an ancestry far different than her father’s narrative of a white, northern European background, she enlists the help of her great grandmother to investigate their roots. As she and Great Gram ignore her father’s protests and search for documents in the attic of an historic San Francisco Victorian, the family’s actual history unfolds.
Their true Californio ancestors include a Spanish soldier in the Portola expedition to explore Alta California, a captured Ohlone native and a girl whose family walks with the De Anza settlers almost two thousand miles north from Sinaloa to the San Francisco Bay. Nicole slowly unravels the mysteries of her two hundred and fifty year family tree, from California’s native inhabitants and its earliest European colonizers through the generations to the Gold Rush.
How does her origin story unfold after the arrival of those Spanish explorers? Can she and Great Gram find evidence of their true family tree and use it to protect the old house from being sold off? Can Nicole find common ground and reconcile with her father in the process? In This Land of Plenty’s family saga introduces the diverse cast of characters and complex social issues that populate California’s rich history while drawing a direct line to today’s residents.