A magnificent new novel from one of America’s finest writers―a powerfully affecting story spanning the twentieth century of a widow and her daughter and the nuns who serve their Irish-American community in Brooklyn.
On a dim winter afternoon, a young Irish immigrant opens the gas taps in his Brooklyn tenement. He is determined to prove―to the subway bosses who have recently fired him, to his badgering, pregnant wife―“that the hours of his life belong to himself alone.” In the aftermath of the fire that follows, Sister St. Savior, an aging nun appears, unbidden, to direct the way forward for his widow and his unborn child.
We begin deep inside Catholic Brooklyn, in the early part of the twentieth century. Decorum, superstition, and shame collude to erase the man’s brief existence. Yet his suicide, although never spoken of, reverberates through many lives and over the decades testing the limits and the demands of love and sacrifice, of forgiveness and forgetfulness, even through multiple generations.
The characters we meet, from Sally, the unborn baby at the beginning of the novel, who becomes the center of the story to the nuns whose personalities we come to know and love to the neighborhood families with whose lives they are entwined, are all rendered with extraordinary sympathy and McDermott’s trademark lucidity and intelligence. Alice McDermott’s The Ninth Hour is a crowning achievement by one of the premiere writers at work in America today.
PRAISE FOR THE NINTH HOUR
2017 Kirkus Prize Finalist
“McDermott has extended her range and deepened it, allowing for more darkness, more generous lashings of the spiritual . . . Vivid and arresting . . . Marvelously evocative.” ―Mary Gordon, The New York Times Book Review
“Beautifully observed, quietly absorbing . . . This enveloping novel, too, is a tonic, if not a cure.” ―Heller McAlpin, NPR
“[T]he precision of a master . . . [A] great novel.” ―The Wall Street Journal
“Stunning… McDermott has created a haunting and vivid portrait of an Irish Catholic clan in early 20th century America.”―The Associated Press
“Brilliant… perhaps her finest work to date.” ―Michael Magras, The Houston Chronicle
“A remarkable snapshot of early 20th-century Irish-Catholic Brooklyn.” ―Entertainment Weekly
“McDermott is a poet of corporeal description . . . it’s the way she marries the spirit to the physical world that makes her work transcendent . . . The Ninth Hour is a story with the simple grace of a votive candle in a dark church.” ―Sarah Begley, Time