In Fernandez’s own Spanish version of her award-winning novel, Intaglio: A Novel in Six Stories, first published in 1990, the reader discovers a tightly-woven coming-of-age novel made up of sensitive portraits of six extraordinary women born in the early twentieth century near the Texas-Mexican border who leave their cultural imprint on the narrator, Nenita, a member of the younger generation. In a time when women didn’t use the pen to express themselves, the women around Nenita eloquently express their strength, their loves, and their dreams through their creativity, turning even the mundane into an artful representation of their lives.
By observing the life of her various mentors, Nenita learns to rise above the limitations that the culture of La Frontera imposed on women of her mother’s generation who nonetheless were able to find outlets within their domestic space for their creative expressions. When her mother’s blue album, which documents an important part of family history, is destroyed, Nenita sets out on a metaphorical journey in an attempt to find her identity amidst the cultural expressions of her community.
The six stories deftly portray women struggling with their artistic expression in a culture that limits them. From Andrea, the actress, Amanda the seamstress, Filomena who constructs magnificent altars for the Día de los muertos celebrations, the ethereal and meditative Leonor, Esmerelda the stunning young beauty, and Zulema the storyteller, Nenita absorbs the artistic inspirations of those around her.
Férnandez’s gentle narrative sings with the strength of an exceptional community of women and the influence they have on the next generation.