The Caballeros of Ruby,
Interesting read ... Recommended ... 5 stars
The wealthy family we met in
Fire Lilies is reintroduced a generation later in Writer Massey's
"The Caballeros of Ruby, Texas" as we follow Alicia
Martinez' son Miguel. Don Miguel is a successful businessman,
the father of six children and not too faithful husband of wife
Beatriz. When Don Miguel's contracting business fails he is forced
into bankruptcy. The move to California's Salinas Valley is first
viewed as a fresh start. However many of the problems besetting
the family follow them. Don Miguel's marriage collapses, his
children marry, the life he faces in California does not resemble
anything he had hoped for.
Writer Massey presents her narrative
from the viewpoint of three of the daughters: Isabel's story
runs from 1948-1953, Terre's 1942-1955, and Marta's 1956-1959.
Each of the daughters views life from the perspective of her
own personality and sibling position. Isabel believes the trials
the family face are a result of her father's bankruptcy. When
the money available for her to finish her college education is
gone Isabel is not too unhappy. She didn't much care for school
and goes to work before she falls in love with the man she marries.
Isabel is determined that her marriage will not follow the patriarchal
constraints followed by her parents. Isabel's portion of the
story ends in 1953 when she as a young married mother of a three
year old leaves Ruby with her husband as he completes his military
duty in Kansas. Terre's tale begins in 1942 when her sister Marta
is born, it is the year Don Miguel took 'that woman' with him
on a business trip to Mississippi. Terre is unable to reconcile
her father's infidelity with his love for his family. When her
own fiancée proves untrue she makes up her mind that she
is not going to live as her mother did. At first neither parent
can believe that Terre is adamant when she breaks her engagement
on days before the wedding. Marta's segment is told from the
standpoint of a younger child. The move to California does not
prove to be the salvation of the family. If anything it only
worsens the situation. Don Miguel's drinking and womanizing continue,
Beatriz faces the stress in the only way she can, at last she
takes her Elliie, Lupita and Marta and returns to Ruby. Beatriz
went right to work in a tomato packing shed and then began selling
cosmetics door to door. Beatriz has found her calling soon has
a thriving cosmetics business underway. Marta married in 1962.
She and Daniel moved to California and lived with Don Miguel
for a time before moving back to Texas where Daniel became a
successful grocer with a chain of stores. Raul the only son became
an officer in the Air Force.
"The Caballeros of Ruby,
Texas" is a poignant tale presenting an engaging glimpse
into the ethnicity and way of life of a significant portion of
our society. Writer Massey illustrates the restraints felt by
both young and older Hispanic women living here in the United
States during the years following World War II. Massey demonstrates
how these restrictions work both to the hindrance and advantage
of the women involved. Of the ministrations of a patriarchal
husband or parent can be repressing, but
especially for daughters there is security to be had when dad
has the final say in many aspects of her life.
Massey has a canny knack for
taking the mundane and weaving a tale of outstanding proportions.
The Caballero family is like so many I have know from my growing
up days and early teaching days in the San Joaquin Valley, California.
Writer Massey only improves her
skill as a writer. "The Caballeros of Ruby, Texas"
is a charismatic, well-written work filled with powerful, well
fleshed characters. Each of the women is a person in her own
right. Massey adroitly captures the spirit ound in all family
situations whether good, bad or somewhere in between. I like
Massey's presentation with the three daughters each speaking
from their own viewpoint. No one perspective really presents
a true picture of anything. The story of Don Miguel and his doleful
downward slide is much more believable when seen through the
eyes of his three daughters.
Excellent read, happy to recommend