A Wasp in the Fig Tree

A Wasp in the Fig Tree

by Mary Bryan Stafford


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Cattle brought most of the gringos to South Texas, but oil gave them a glimpse of wealth and power. Despite their light skin, the Parr men, patróns of South Texas, spoke Spanish as their first language. Like the cactus and barbed wire, the bougainvillea and orange tree in this arid land, they flaunted their charm and made no excuses for the thorns. They paid medical bills for the Hispanics. They helped their children go to college. But when it came time to vote, their benevolence demanded obedience.

In Duval County, it’s politics as usual. This is the world, Isabel (Izzie) Martin is transported to––a world of wealth and deprivation, of generosity and expectation, and most of all, of firm class lines. When her parents divorce, she and her mother come to live at her uncle’s Rancho de las Higueras, Ranch of the Fig Trees––a luxurious haven if it weren’t for those insidious little rumors about the family’s involvement in election fraud––an 87 graveyard vote margin that launched Lyndon Johnson into the U.S. Senate.

On April Fool’s Day, Isabel witnesses a terrible event that leads her to believe her beloved uncle, Tío, contributed to his brother George Parr’s death. At the funeral she overhears that Senator Johnson, may court Tío’s allegiance when he needs another election in the bag. Although she doesn’t understand all she sees and hears from this generation who withheld “adult” information, she is determined to find the truth about her uncle while vowing to protect him with her silence.

She finds a friend in young gringo, Burt Charles. He is everything to her––her partner in crime, a voice of reason, her one solace in this burnt out country where everyone speaks Spanish­­––except her.

Ethnic and class lines induce skirmishes between her and Marisol, the Hispanic daughter of the Villanueva family who has worked for the Parrs for generations. Marisol is incensed at the extravagance that the younger Izzie flaunts. Izzie hates Marisol’s use of Spanish that excludes her. She resents Marisol’s academic success and attachment to a frail baby sister whom she believes to be spoiled.

In this coming-of-age novel, Mary Bryan Stafford sheds new light on the South Texas history of the Parr family and explores with humor and poignancy the dynamics of the times and the attitudes towards race and class in the South Texas of the 1950’s.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781507736609
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 07/01/2014
Pages: 308
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.65(d)

About the Author

Mary Bryan Stafford grew up in South Texas and was a niece in the infamous family of patrón George Parr, the Duke of Duval. She is seventh generation Texan and a member of The Daughters of the Republic of Texas. She graduated from The College of William and Mary in Virginia with degrees in English and Spanish but got back to Texas on the fast train. She taught school in Corpus Christi, Round Rock and Lake Travis High School and loved being an instructor in aerobic dance. She and her husband have traveled widely throughout Europe, South America and Africa, but now live the Hill Country where she spends her time writing and training her two horses.
An award-winning author, she is published for "Blowout," in the anthology Women Write about the Southwest, winner of the Willa Award, "Epiphany" in the anthology The Noble Generation III and many times in the Texas Poetry Calendar.
In addition to being a quarterfinalist in Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Contest, her fiction has been recognized as a first place winner multiple times in writing contests throughout the country.
She has been a regular contributor of interesting and informative articles to County Life
Magazine and Faces and Places Magazine for the Texas Hill Country

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A Wasp in the Fig Tree 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
LisaPotocar More than 1 year ago
This is a very lovely character-driven story about a young girl who, after the divorce of her parents, comes of age being forced to accept a new way of life while she seeks love and respect from those who do and don’t offer it so easily. Mary Bryan Stafford is an incredibly talented writer. Her character descriptions and emotions blended in beautifully with her scenes and the story’s action, both of which I felt like I was a part of. I know this author is writing another story, and I cannot wait to read what she’s whipping up! BTW, I love her title and cover—they match the story just perfectly.