Emilia Pardo Bazán, the most prolific and influential Spanish female writer of the nineteenth century, was a very controversial figure, vilified for her embracement of naturalism and her robust feminist stance.
When Insolación was published in 1889 it provoked a litany of negative comments and personal insults. This subtle, psychological novel, drawing on many aspects of its author's personal life, deals with the relationship between Asís, a respectable Galician widow, and Pacheco, a feckless womaniser from Andalucía. Although they scarcely know each other, Asís accepts Pacheco's invitation to visit the San Isidro Fair, where a heady cocktail of sun, alcohol and revelry causes her to behave in an uncharacteristic manner.
Insolación explores the conflict between Asís's self-recrimination and concern for the 'qué dirán' and her nascent sexuality. Finally, despite her determination to banish Pacheco from her mind and her intention to go back to Galicia, the couple sleep together and decide to marry.
The perceived promiscuity of this work of fiction scandalised the reading public as well as many leading critics. Pereda considered Asís's behaviour reprehensible and Clarín dismissed the novel as a pseudo-erotic boutade. Nowadays, Insolación is recognised as an important novel.