Teresa, first published in 1886, is set in Italy's Po Valley near Cremona. The story relates the life of Teresa Caccia, an eldest daughter whose primary responsibilities at age fifteen include taking care of her younger siblings. When she falls in love, the union is deemed financially unsuitable and she's forced to spend the remainder of her youth caring for her family. Only when her brothers and sisters have left home can she emerge from her bleak existence and create her own life.
Through Teresa and other women characters, Neera addressed the injustice of such societal restrictions in nineteenth-century Italy. Neera's narratives are noted for their subtle psychoanalytical presentation of feminine states of mind as well as for an unflinching examination of society.