' I baked the bread made you mortal. For mortal you had to be. Same as myself, fach. No different see?...When I'm gone, you'll be taking my place quite natural...A chain o'women. All alike. Every link. That life may hold unbroken..'
So a dying woman addresses her supernatural daughter-in-law. For this is the old folk tale of the Lady of Llyn y Fan Fach, the fairy bride lured from her underwater home to become a farmer's wife on the Brecon Beacons. Iron and Gold's retelling of the myth makes of it a psychological study in the nature of marriage and the social construction of gender roles.
As the bride struggles to adapt herself, and sees her gold worn away under the iron pressure of conformity, both her difference and her acquired familiarity eventually breed marital breakdown and tragedy. But the human yearning for strange beauty, disruptive though it may be, remains poignantly alive throughout the novel.