Sandra Perez Gluschankoff’s choice of title for The Last Fernandez marks the book as a potential winner before you read a word. Who was the first Fernandez? Is this the last remaining Fernandez, or the Fernandez before the present one? Good questions, and you need to read the book to find the answers, which is the whole idea of a good title.
But there’s much more to Fernandez than the cover. Gluschankoff keeps us fascinated with an ambitious tale that spans more than four centuries of spiritual communication between two women who suffer vicious persecution in their own times. Sara (Sarah) is a victim of the 14th-15th century Spanish Inquisition. Angelique falls prey to the brutal depredations of the Argentinian purges of the twentieth century. The two women are connected not only by their clairvoyance but by their music and their Judaism. It’s a powerful bond between modern and ancient traditions of persecution and survival, though sad to say, both traditions go back much farther than four centuries. There’s a lot of material to digest here, and I sometimes found that explanation and backstory interrupted the narrative.
However, Gluschankoff knows better than to deliver pure polemic. She understands that even such a compelling history as this doesn’t make a novel. Amid the peril and the brutality, it’s the across-the-centuries love stories that give Fernandez its power and that make it a book you won’t easily set aside, nor want to. This is one absorbing and compelling read.