In This Land of Plenty


Product Details

$16.98  $15.62
MKS Publishing
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.5 X 1.01 inches | 1.26 pounds
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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, 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. Her debut novel, In This Land of Plenty, a family saga based on California history, was published in summer, 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.


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.

-Larry Habegger, Executive Editor, Travelers' Tales

Great story! Mary Smathers ties the different California eras and different lives together beautifully, and her 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 we 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. Ms. Smathers' research and writing captivated me, I found myself caring for several of the characters, and it was impossible for me to put her book down. Really, really good!

--Dr. Mike Matthews, Superintendent, Manhattan Beach Unified School District, former AP US History teacher

Mary Smathers' first novel In This Land of Plenty is a bell ringer. Smathers weaves together a vibrant story of California over 250 years with Spanish settlers, Native Americans, and late arriving Anglos. Memorable characters in each culture tell their unforgettable and entwined stories. 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 of 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. You will learn a lot of history, and deeply connect with some dynamic characters.

--Dr. Michael Kirst, Emeritus Professor of Education and Business, Stanford University, former President, CA State Board of Education

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mary Smathers' debut novel, In This Land of Plenty. And 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. Smathers knows history well and tells historical stories well. She also shows how, despite huge differences in our backgrounds, we are all part of the same story. I can't wait for her second novel!

--Dr. Christine Sleeter, Professor Emerita, Multi-Cultural Education, Cal State University, Monterey Bay