This book tells the story of Deirdre, the Irish princess renowned for her beauty and her tragic fate. Because of a prophecy of doom at Deirdre’s birth, the king of Ulster, King Conor, determines to marry her himself. When she is seven years old, he sets her apart to live alone, that she may not fall in love with anyone else. However, when she is sixteen, she meets her childhood friend Naoise again by chance, and their deep love brings them to exile in Scotland and eventual tragedy.
The story is a traditional Irish legend of great beauty and sorrow, and Polland’s excellent retelling brings out the tale’s romance and melancholy beautifully. Her prose is simple, yet poignant, and her retelling is both straightforward and striking. It is sweetly romantic and very touching. Morally, the book is exemplary if not astonishing; married love, as well as courage and other traditional values, are praised. I definitely recommend this book as a near-definitive retelling of the tale.