May 1959. From one side of St. Brigid's Island, the mountains of Connemara can be glimpsed on the distant mainland; from the other, the Atlantic stretches as far as the eye can see. This remote settlement, without electricity or even a harbor, has scarcely altered since its namesake saint set up a convent of stone huts centuries ago. Those who live there, including sisters Rose and Emer, are hardy and resourceful, dependent on the sea and each other for survival.
There is an island off the west coast of Ireland called Inis Muruch - the Island of the Mermaids - a world where myth is more powerful than truth, where the sea sings with the healing and haunting voices of women, and where death is never as strong as the redemptive power of family and love. It is here that Lisa Carey sets her lyrical and sensual first novel, weaving together the voices and lives of three generations of Irish-American women.
St Brigid's Island lies off the west coast of Ireland, and by 1960 it is a community in decline. It possesses no modern conveniences; there are also no doctors, priests, running water or electricity. The government wants the island evacuated, but those who have refused to go cling hard to their traditions. Among those remaining families are two sisters, Rose and Emer. Rose is beautiful, blessed with fertility and a deep love for her husband, but her sister, Emer, is cursed with both being unlovely and possessing a punishing gift.