Author, Writing Coach, Journalist
Positive Reviews for Debut Novel!
Selected as a Shelf Unbound 2020 Best Indie Top 100 Notable Book and a Readers' Favorite 5 Star Review!
…the prose is smooth and the research strong....Smathers’ novel offers a nuanced and appreciative illustration of a complicated past, threaded through with hope for unity and understanding. A rewarding and enriching read.
--Historical Novel Society Magazine Review, February, 2021 Edition
The author delivers an often 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....If you love a good story and a great history lesson, In This Land of Plenty is a book for you.
--Readers' Favorite 5 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
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
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, Award-winning author, Professor Emerita, Multi-Cultural Education, CSU Monterey Bay
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....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
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
In This Land of Plenty, the reader is treated to a fascinating history lesson as well as an inspiring story. Smathers goes back nearly nine generations to tell the saga of a family that began with the Ohlone tribe, merged with Spanish conquerors, Mexican settlers, and finally with an Irish immigrant. She captures the pain and struggle of each of these groups and the role they played in California history. Readers will look forward to a sequel.
--Kathy Nielsen, former California History Room Librarian, Monterey Public Library, Professional Genealogist
...a comprehensive and compelling story of the state’s history that is as memorable as it is relatable. When the story’s protagonist proclaims towards the end of the saga to a large family gathering, “We are all Californios,” you may mark this book as the moment you proudly took up that mantle yourself. --Bert Bower, CEO and Founder, Teachers’ Curriculum Institute
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 California's rich history.
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.
Fans of historical fiction will fall in love with this novel’s:
- Strong research and vivid depictions of historic California
- Inspiration from 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 many women, who are both relatable and fascinating
- Emphasis on the importance of family and understanding your past
In This Land of Plenty is perfect for book clubs or as a gift for the reader in your life.