The Ninth Hour
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.

The Ninth Hour Details

TitleThe Ninth Hour
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 19th, 2017
PublisherFarrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN-139780374280147
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Religion, Audiobook

The Ninth Hour Review

  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    Alice McDermott is one of my very favorite writers. I found in her new novel the same subtle, quiet storytelling with simple prose, descriptions that defy you to stay in your present place and send you to this place, this Catholic, Irish-American Brooklyn in the early twentieth century. She invites you through her ordinary characters living their everyday lives in spite of their flaws, to see the extraordinary things of our humanity. This is a story of a family beginning with life before Sally i Alice McDermott is one of my very favorite writers. I found in her new novel the same subtle, quiet storytelling with simple prose, descriptions that defy you to stay in your present place and send you to this place, this Catholic, Irish-American Brooklyn in the early twentieth century. She invites you through her ordinary characters living their everyday lives in spite of their flaws, to see the extraordinary things of our humanity. This is a story of a family beginning with life before Sally is born to Anne and narrated by Sally's children. It begins with the fate of Sally's father as he commits suicide and the nuns enter their lives . In a time when the nuns cared for the poor and the sick and the orphans and then taking under their wings a widow and her infant daughter even before she is born. They will impact Anne and Sally throughout their lives. So this is a story as much about these nuns as it is about this family. The Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor - Sister St. Saviour, Sister Illuminata, Sister Jeanne , Sister Lucy - I couldn't help but love these nuns. I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic school so found a real affinity to them. There was something about being near to them that made you want to be like them so it was understandable to me why Sally as a young woman thinks she wants to join the convent. Is this about the Catholic Church? Sure in some ways. Is it about people's relationship with God? Sure in some ways. But it's also about life , so of course there is death . It's about family, not just mothers and fathers and children but about how those who care for each other are family and so it is about love. I enjoyed this as much as I have several of McDermott's novels because she has such command of the language and it through the simplicity of her prose that she gives us these beautiful stories. Highly recommended to any McDermott fan and to anyone else who hasn't read her work - she's an amazing talent.
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    I absolutely adore this author, and have been waiting for a few years for this her next offering. Her novels aren't suspense filled, no thrill a minute, no car chases or knife wielding psychopaths, just slices of life in all it's messy permutations. Early twentieth century, Brooklyn, a neighborhood of Irish Catholics during a time period when most medical care was performed by nuns, in this case the Little Nursing Sisters of the sick poor, the only recourse for those who cannot afford a physicia I absolutely adore this author, and have been waiting for a few years for this her next offering. Her novels aren't suspense filled, no thrill a minute, no car chases or knife wielding psychopaths, just slices of life in all it's messy permutations. Early twentieth century, Brooklyn, a neighborhood of Irish Catholics during a time period when most medical care was performed by nuns, in this case the Little Nursing Sisters of the sick poor, the only recourse for those who cannot afford a physician. A young man commits suicide, leaving a young pregnant wife, enter Sister St. Savior who will be this woman's guardian angel. Providing her with a job in the convention laundry as well as finding her needed baby things and even a new friend with children of her own. Sally is born and is raised with the help of the good sisters in the convent laundry. We come to know some of these sisters, travel with them as they visit the elderly, and the ill in their homes. The sisters very much present in the lives of these families. We watch as a young woman struggles with a decision regarding her vocation and her mother tries to find a new path to happiness, one in which the sisters very much disapprove. In a unique twist we also hear from voices from the future about forthcoming events, second and third generations. A wonderfully told story about a time long past, about love and morals and the many places and times these same crcumstances repeat. McDermott's novels are so realistic, her writing simple but heartfelt, her characters flawed but for the most part good intentioned. People just doing the best they can in the lives they find themselves and in the paths they have chosen whether this is married life or a life dedicated to the church. Struggling with many of the same things we struggle with today.If you enjoy Call of the Midwives I think you will enjoy this.ARC from Netgalley.
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  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    During this cynical point of time when the words “sacrifice” and “service” have become quaint and puzzling, The Ninth Hour seems a bit of an anachronism or at the very least, historical curiosity.Alice McDermott, however, in exquisite prose, captures the world of early twentieth century Catholic Brooklyn, with its lens on the Little Sisters of the Sick Poor, their laundress Annie and her daughter Sally.The beauty of the novel is that it doesn’t judge, providing the nuns with humanity without ele During this cynical point of time when the words “sacrifice” and “service” have become quaint and puzzling, The Ninth Hour seems a bit of an anachronism or at the very least, historical curiosity.Alice McDermott, however, in exquisite prose, captures the world of early twentieth century Catholic Brooklyn, with its lens on the Little Sisters of the Sick Poor, their laundress Annie and her daughter Sally.The beauty of the novel is that it doesn’t judge, providing the nuns with humanity without elevating them to martyrdom or turning them into figures of scorn or pity. One of the most powerful passages I’ve read this year occurs when Sally, a young girl who flirts with joining them, travels to Chicago to meet with the order on a train. There, she is forced to learn “the truth of the dirty world (showing) her that her own impulse was to meet its filthy citizens not with a consoling cloth, but with a curse, a punch in the face.”She makes her decision knowing she is flawed too, and with a greater sense of self.Is it better to elect chaos busyness, bustling…rambunctious kids, overflowing ashtrays, cloudy classes? Or is the serenity of religion, the focus on purity and sacrifice and eternal rules the more appealing way? As a non-believer, there were times while reading the book that I chafed—the pressure on an idealistic and naïve young girl to become a noviate and give up the comfort of married life, for example, or the equating of lovemaking with sin. But still, Alice McDermott’s goal is not to judge but instead, to test the limits of love and sacrifice. She does a darn good job of it.
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  • Myra
    January 1, 1970
    This is it – my favorite book from 2017. Growing up Catholic, I had an immediate connection to the story. McDermott clearly excels at creating the quiet stories of humanity. THE NINTH HOUR is a sublime piece of literary fiction by this award-winning author. Highly Recommended!PUBLICATION DATE: September 19, 2017
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  • Mary Lins
    January 1, 1970
    Here’s the gist of my review of “The Ninth Hour”, by Alice McDermott: I loved it and I didn’t want it to end. Keep reading and I’ll tell you why.Beginning with a suicide on a dismal winter’s day in Catholic/immigrant Brooklyn near the beginning of the 20th century, McDermott completely and vividly captures the time, place and denizens of this moment in the history of New York, the US, and of the Catholic Church.The novel is narrated by a collective “we”; the children and grandchildren of the mai Here’s the gist of my review of “The Ninth Hour”, by Alice McDermott: I loved it and I didn’t want it to end. Keep reading and I’ll tell you why.Beginning with a suicide on a dismal winter’s day in Catholic/immigrant Brooklyn near the beginning of the 20th century, McDermott completely and vividly captures the time, place and denizens of this moment in the history of New York, the US, and of the Catholic Church.The novel is narrated by a collective “we”; the children and grandchildren of the main characters. This narrative choice was captivating and thoroughly realistic for me, as I am the great-grandchild of Irish Catholic immigrants whose stories and faith were handed down from generation to generation. McDermott centers the story around two families and the nuns belonging to the convent of the “Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor, Congregation of Mary Before the Cross”. I became particularly fond of the nun characters as McDermott fully renders each as individuals; sweet Sister Jeanne, stern Sister Lucy, pragmatic Sister Illuminata, and manipulative Sister St. Savoir who starts the whole story rolling. So often modern literature depicts nuns in a negative light, it was refreshing to meet nun characters who were “real”: neither all good nor all bad, each with her own motivations and beliefs. Sister Jeanne especially focuses her faith on “fairness” and the belief that God will make everything balance in the end, even though in life we see so much unfairness: the good suffer, evil is rewarded. The notion of fairness is a running theme throughout the novel and Sister Jeanne's personal struggle is especially poignant.McDermott’s neighborhood is filled with details that are but a memory today:- Milk Men- Free range children- Nuns begging for alms and nursing the poor- Wakes- Statues covered in purple cloth during Lent- The certainty of Heaven and HellMidway through the novel there is a pivotal chapter that takes place on an overnight train ride between New York and Chicago that is both perfect and genius, and the reason why McDermott is an acclaimed author. Her writing puts the reader right on that train with the character Sally, who is going to Chicago with the intention of becoming a nun like the Little Sisters she grew up with (her mother worked in the convent laundry). I could almost hear, smell, taste, and feel, along with Sally on her transformative ride.  Writing like McDermott's is why this novel will likely end up on my Top Ten list for 2017. I just wish it was longer.
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  • Mary Lou
    January 1, 1970
    Alice McDermott captures accurately and beautifully the memory of a time of certainty in Irish Catholic communities, when the rules were promulgated by priests and nuns, and deviation from the prescribed path in this life resulted in eternal damnation. I cannot comment on how anyone who has not been brought up in such circumstances can relate to The Ninth Hour, because I was, and therefore can. The Ninth Hour starts quietly as the overworked nuns from the Order of the Little Sisters of the Sick Alice McDermott captures accurately and beautifully the memory of a time of certainty in Irish Catholic communities, when the rules were promulgated by priests and nuns, and deviation from the prescribed path in this life resulted in eternal damnation. I cannot comment on how anyone who has not been brought up in such circumstances can relate to The Ninth Hour, because I was, and therefore can. The Ninth Hour starts quietly as the overworked nuns from the Order of the Little Sisters of the Sick Poor are guided by God’s hand to the neighbourhoods where their help is needed most. The novel gathers momentum when Sally, one of the central characters, discovers while on an overnight train journey to Chicago, that her sheltered upbringing around the convent has left her unprepared for the big, imperfect world. When she returns home, things have changed and she embarks upon a regimen of sacrifice to make reparation for her mother’s failings, little knowing that others may have bigger and better plans in this direction.Alice McDermott’s moving, descriptive writing brings these tough times to life, when love and mercy makes life easier, but an understanding of how to ensure your place in Heaven- or how to lose it, whatever the reason, is more important than anything else.Many thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for the opportunity to read this book.
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  • BookBully
    January 1, 1970
    (Big Sigh.) Hmmm. What to say about THE NINTH HOUR, the new novel from Alice McDermott? As always, I am awestruck by her command of language. Honestly, McDermott is one of the most talented stylists I've ever come across. And her ability to set her reader into a specific place and time is unmatched. In THE NINTH HOUR, McDermott takes us to Brooklyn in the early part of the last century. We meet Annie, a young pregnant woman newly widowed by her husband's suicide. She and her unborn child are sur (Big Sigh.) Hmmm. What to say about THE NINTH HOUR, the new novel from Alice McDermott? As always, I am awestruck by her command of language. Honestly, McDermott is one of the most talented stylists I've ever come across. And her ability to set her reader into a specific place and time is unmatched. In THE NINTH HOUR, McDermott takes us to Brooklyn in the early part of the last century. We meet Annie, a young pregnant woman newly widowed by her husband's suicide. She and her unborn child are surrounded and eventually taken in by the Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor. Their lives are forever meshed with those of the nuns even as years and decades pass. So why my hesitation, as well as a rating of 3.5 stars? Well, as the novel progressed I found myself less and less interested in the lives of Annie and her daughter, Sally, and wanting more time with the nuns especially grumpy Sister Lucy and the often ignored Sister Illuminata. By the end of the book even the hastened death of one character didn't intrigue me. I would still recommend THE NINTH HOUR to any and all McDermott fans and I remain anxious to read her next book.
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  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    On one level, The Ninth Hour is a story about a young widow, Annie, and her daughter. We meet Annie at the lowest point of her life which also happens to be when she meets Sister St. Savior, a spirited nun who will take Annie and her infant daughter under her wing. Annie works in the laundry at the nunnery and Sally grows up knowing the sisters as her family. On a broader level, this is a story full of strong women fighting to live the lives they felt born to live. While there may be many storie On one level, The Ninth Hour is a story about a young widow, Annie, and her daughter. We meet Annie at the lowest point of her life which also happens to be when she meets Sister St. Savior, a spirited nun who will take Annie and her infant daughter under her wing. Annie works in the laundry at the nunnery and Sally grows up knowing the sisters as her family. On a broader level, this is a story full of strong women fighting to live the lives they felt born to live. While there may be many stories about the Irish arriving in Brooklyn to start a new life, this feels fresh both in the story and the storytelling. The perspectives shift letting us get to know and understand what drives both Annie and Sally in their search for meaning and joy in their lives. The line between the secular and the holy is crossed over and back again many times as we see that life is not black and white but shades of grey. As the story progresses many links between the characters are revealed that only we are privy to. I found the writing to be beautiful. I loved how the concept of time belonging to ourselves was described as being the greatest luxury. I also appreciated how the nuns were portrayed as holy yet susceptible to human foibles of jealousy and fear without that affecting their relationship with God. They cared for the sick and the needy but the different sisters are described as: having a small, tight knot of fury at the center of her chest, having a mad heart – mad for mercy perhaps, but mad nonetheless, etc. Beautiful descriptions of women on fire for their cause. This was my first book by Alice McDermott and won’t be my last! Loved it!
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  • Jaclyn Crupi
    January 1, 1970
    I love a good NYC stoop cover. McDermott explores the reverberations of depression and suicide through generations/years in her latest novel and in that way it has echoes of Imagine Me Gone but without the humour. The writing is luminous as it always is from McDermott. But this book was too nun heavy for me and I ultimately didn't care enough about the fate of the characters.
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  • Debbie Krenzer
    January 1, 1970
    For me this book was just okay. I would have, however, liked to have seen more of Sally and a lot less of the nuns. I think that had I'd known that most of it was taking place in a convent, I would not have requested this book.Thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
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  • Yukari Watanabe
    January 1, 1970
    It's an exquisite novel which portrays Catholic Brooklyn in the early twentieth century. I loved the nuns McDermott introduced us. They make you care about them and ultimately our lives.
  • Jean Brown
    January 1, 1970
    5 Stars...
  • Bonnie Brody
    January 1, 1970
    Alice McDermott has long been a favorite of mine. She has a unique ability to evoke a sense of place and time, usually Catholic families in New York in the first half of the 20th century. Oftentimes, what is not said is as rich and laden with information as that which is clearly spelled out.This novel begins with Jim's suicide. He has been let go from his job and leaves his pregnant wife Annie behind. Serendipitously, shortly after his death, Sister St. Saviour, whose vocation is "to enter the h Alice McDermott has long been a favorite of mine. She has a unique ability to evoke a sense of place and time, usually Catholic families in New York in the first half of the 20th century. Oftentimes, what is not said is as rich and laden with information as that which is clearly spelled out.This novel begins with Jim's suicide. He has been let go from his job and leaves his pregnant wife Annie behind. Serendipitously, shortly after his death, Sister St. Saviour, whose vocation is "to enter the homes of strangers, mostly the sick and elderly, to breeze into their apartments and to sail comfortably into their rooms" unexpectedly finds herself tending to Annie. When the Sister is informed by the police that the death has been by suicide, "the truth of the suicide was both acknowledged and put away". Annie is taken under the Sister's wing and given a job in the convent's laundry. Sister St. Savior, who is very ill at that time, dies shortly afterwards. "The baby, a daughter, was born in August, just three weeks after the old nun died. She was called Sally, but baptized St. Savior in honor of the Sister's kindness that sad afternoon." Sally grows up among the convent Sisters, each contributing to the child's growth and development.Sally believes she has a calling to become a nun but undergoes a crisis of faith. The novel explores issues of guilt, redemption and forgiveness, especially in relationship to the Catholic faith. Jim's suicide, though never discussed, has ramifications for his family even two generations further. The narrative is rendered in a quiet brilliance. Alice McDermott is a master at pointing the reader towards those messages that are left unsaid. As I read this novel, I remembered my readings of Augustine and Aquinas, especially Aquinas's belief that 'God is that by which, that which is, is'. There is a deep undercurrent of spiritual belief in 'The Ninth Hour' and it is like a gentle but persistent tide.
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  • Sue
    January 1, 1970
    Review copy courtesy of Bloomsbury via NetGalley - many thanks for the opportunity. The characters make this book stand out. The nuns of the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor, Congregation of Mary Before the Cross who ‘appeared in every household whenever crisis or illness disrupted the routine, whenever a substitute was needed for She Who Could Not Be Replaced’. Women of all sorts who became nuns and gave up (but didn’t, of course, entirely forget) their earlier connections, families, per Review copy courtesy of Bloomsbury via NetGalley - many thanks for the opportunity. The characters make this book stand out. The nuns of the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor, Congregation of Mary Before the Cross who ‘appeared in every household whenever crisis or illness disrupted the routine, whenever a substitute was needed for She Who Could Not Be Replaced’. Women of all sorts who became nuns and gave up (but didn’t, of course, entirely forget) their earlier connections, families, personal circumstances to devote their lives to service. They remain individuals and it is for this that I loved them. Into this world is born Sally, the daughter of a woman tragically widowed and then employed by the convent as a laundress. She has a happy childhood, heavily influenced by these wonderful women, and who would not expect her to consider becoming a nun herself? A long, trying, overnight train journey, though, convinces her otherwise, ‘showed her that her own impulse was to meet its filthy citizens not with a consoling cloth, but with a curse, a punch in the face’. This only serves to underline the difficulties, the squalor and the pain the nuns dealt with every day and it is how they dealt with them in their very individual, and surprisingly non-judgemental, ways that touched me. Not a Catholic myself, I found reading this story a moving and genuinely uplifting experience. Some lovely writing and insight into human nature. One particular passage stands out from the occasion of an old man’s dying, his children reflecting on their father’s and grandfather’s lives:‘…it was history we were talking about so comfortably, here at the end of our father’s days and the new waning of our own. History was easy: the past with all loss burned out of it, all sorrow worn out of it - all that was merely personal comfortably removed.’
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  • Dan Radovich
    January 1, 1970
    FIVE STARS... 'nuf said. Alice McDermott has created a masterpiece of Irish-American Catholic fiction with THE NINTH HOUR. Yes, I did think of 'Call the Midwife' (for those familiar with the British television show and books) as I began reading. The nuns of the Little Sisters of the Sick Poor, care for the neighborhood of Brooklyn where this glorious piece is set. 1940's/1950's life is captured with brilliant prose, told in a unique 'voice'. Her writing is crystal clear perfection, exemplified b FIVE STARS... 'nuf said. Alice McDermott has created a masterpiece of Irish-American Catholic fiction with THE NINTH HOUR. Yes, I did think of 'Call the Midwife' (for those familiar with the British television show and books) as I began reading. The nuns of the Little Sisters of the Sick Poor, care for the neighborhood of Brooklyn where this glorious piece is set. 1940's/1950's life is captured with brilliant prose, told in a unique 'voice'. Her writing is crystal clear perfection, exemplified by the chapter of Sally's train journey from New York City to Chicago. Every character is fleshed out, nuns not being carbon-copies of each other but the real women that they are. This work will certainly be found on Top 10 lists, and perhaps bring McDermott a deserved Pulitzer finally. after three nominations.
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  • Rosemary
    January 1, 1970
    The "Ninth Hour" is not, as I thought, 9 a.m, but 3 p.m., the time for afternoon prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours observed by the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick. The lives of Annie "Mc-something," Sally, her daughter, and their Brooklyn neighbors intertwine with those of the Sisters who spend their days visiting and caring for those who need them. Their work often necessitates missing organized prayer in the convent chapel. Sally's unnamed child loosely narrates and recalls how the Sisters The "Ninth Hour" is not, as I thought, 9 a.m, but 3 p.m., the time for afternoon prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours observed by the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick. The lives of Annie "Mc-something," Sally, her daughter, and their Brooklyn neighbors intertwine with those of the Sisters who spend their days visiting and caring for those who need them. Their work often necessitates missing organized prayer in the convent chapel. Sally's unnamed child loosely narrates and recalls how the Sisters did more good than any priest and occasionally chose love and mercy in the 9 a.m. world over the tight strictures of the Church.(I received pre-publication access thanks to NetGalley.)
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  • Jossie Solheim
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted to love this book, but I just couldn't get into it. It rambled on quite a bit, without the story seeming to really get anywhere and felt repetitive at times. It really wasn't for me. I did however like the small glimmers of story that occasionally found its way through, but sadly it was overshadowed by the writing style, which didn't flow and made reading it hard work. The layout of the story and the way it jumped around only further confused things and after reading just over a quarter I wanted to love this book, but I just couldn't get into it. It rambled on quite a bit, without the story seeming to really get anywhere and felt repetitive at times. It really wasn't for me. I did however like the small glimmers of story that occasionally found its way through, but sadly it was overshadowed by the writing style, which didn't flow and made reading it hard work. The layout of the story and the way it jumped around only further confused things and after reading just over a quarter of the book I had to admit defeat and stop reading.
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  • Kirsty
    January 1, 1970
    This wasn't at all a bad novel, but I simply wasn't overly impressed with it. I had heard great things about McDermott's writing before I began to read, and it did not live up to my expectations; it felt a little pretentious at times, and I was not enamoured with her prose style.
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    http://cavebookreviews.blogspot.comThe early part of the twentieth century is replete with immigrant stories about New York, especially Brooklyn. Alice McDermott is a master of Irish legends, creating a story here that kept my nerves on edge, hoping some good will come to some of her Irish American characters. The Ninth Hour begins with a scene in a tenement building where Jim, recently fired from his job on the BMT railroad, kills himself, leaving behind his wife, Annie and an unborn child. Sal http://cavebookreviews.blogspot.comThe early part of the twentieth century is replete with immigrant stories about New York, especially Brooklyn. Alice McDermott is a master of Irish legends, creating a story here that kept my nerves on edge, hoping some good will come to some of her Irish American characters. The Ninth Hour begins with a scene in a tenement building where Jim, recently fired from his job on the BMT railroad, kills himself, leaving behind his wife, Annie and an unborn child. Sally, the baby, arrives in the world surrounded by the safe environment of the nuns who comprise the Little Sister of the Sick Poor in a nearby convent. Annie works in the washroom with Sister St. Savior and Sally grows up with her mom and Sister St. Savior guiding her way. The story of the magic the women do with the wash that fills their days and the stories of times gone past in Ireland make this a vibrant chronicle from the very beginning. Every detail of this strong story of the mother and child and then mom and teenager kept me glued to each new chapter. The skill of Anne McDermott's writing, characterization, and story telling kept me fascinated to the very last word. The story helped remind me what my ancestors and so many others went through to live a better life in a new country. Life was never easy, and today, we know that immigrants from other nations are finding it even harder. Thank you, NetGalley, Alice McDermott, and Farrar, Straus, and Giroux for the opportunity read this e-arc.
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  • Julia Wilson
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully written story of a young woman coming of age with her single mother and the community of nuns that surround them. Anything by Alice McDermott is worth reading although the theme of this book wasn't my favorite.
  • Lillian
    January 1, 1970
    Alice MacDermott is always championing women but never more so than in this quietly beautiful novel.
  • Siobhan
    January 1, 1970
    The Ninth Hour is a short, warm novel about the life of a Brooklyn widow and her daughter and their help from the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor. Annie’s husband Jim commits suicide in their small apartment and Annie, newly pregnant, finds herself at the mercy of Sister St. Saviour. She gets a job in the convent laundry and her daughter, Sally, grows up amongst the sisters, planning to become one of them once she grows up. The narrative follows them, and the man Sally will marry, as the The Ninth Hour is a short, warm novel about the life of a Brooklyn widow and her daughter and their help from the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor. Annie’s husband Jim commits suicide in their small apartment and Annie, newly pregnant, finds herself at the mercy of Sister St. Saviour. She gets a job in the convent laundry and her daughter, Sally, grows up amongst the sisters, planning to become one of them once she grows up. The narrative follows them, and the man Sally will marry, as they deal with living in a Catholic community of decorum and repression.The novel spans three generations in a small space, using concise description and carefully constructed characters to tell these lives. The point of view of Sally’s children gives an air of story, of family tales retold, and there is a theme of people painting events in different ways running throughout. The narrative itself is simple, focused upon the characters—Annie, Sally, and the nuns—and not hugely exciting, but more a chance to focus on forgiveness, sin, and love. The style feels fitting to the kind of story it is, something reminiscent of Anne Enright or other novels about Irish immigrants in New York.McDermott has written a solid character-focused novel about Irish American Catholics in New York that will likely appeal to anyone who enjoys that kind of novel. It is a good quick read, with a side of humanity and a mid-twentieth century setting.
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  • Marlene
    January 1, 1970
    No one gives life to the Irish-American Catholic experience like McDermott. She's done it again in The Ninth Hour. The quiet story explores faith, organized religion, familial love and most of all, the ultimate sadness of the human condition. The brooding sadness is gloriously brightened by wonderful insights into the lives of the characters. The most generous, loving and brave hearts belong to the nuns of the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor who play an integral part in the lives of the No one gives life to the Irish-American Catholic experience like McDermott. She's done it again in The Ninth Hour. The quiet story explores faith, organized religion, familial love and most of all, the ultimate sadness of the human condition. The brooding sadness is gloriously brightened by wonderful insights into the lives of the characters. The most generous, loving and brave hearts belong to the nuns of the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor who play an integral part in the lives of the families they serve. The characters ring true as does the truth of this exploration of what it means to be human.
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  • Sarah Kennedy
    January 1, 1970
    This novel about Irish immigrants in Brooklyn is a lovely character study--with a mystery at its heart. The writing is subtle and evokes the early twentieth century in its details and dialogue. The nuns who inevitably people the world of this book are believable--and human in their faults. No perfectly devout and pious nuns for McDermott! Her women are complex and though they believe in their various callings they also devote themselves to their friends and their community. Highly recommended.
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  • Lynn
    January 1, 1970
    Catholic readers will identify totally with the nuns, parents who want their daughters to be nuns, and the daughters who question a vocation. For those unfamiliar, this novel provides a well-crafted look inside the Catholic families of the mid-20th century.I read this EARC courtesy of Faraar Strauss and Edelweiss. pub date 09/19/17
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free copy of this book at an event for librarians. At the event, I heard the author speak on a panel, and I later got to speak to her one-on-one at a book signing. She was so incredibly gracious and down-to-earth. The fact that this National Book Award winner and Pulitzer Prize nominated author was willing to shoot the breeze with me about a college class my daughter is taking on Catholicism and how this book might fit into her course probably made me predisposed to like this book. I received a free copy of this book at an event for librarians. At the event, I heard the author speak on a panel, and I later got to speak to her one-on-one at a book signing. She was so incredibly gracious and down-to-earth. The fact that this National Book Award winner and Pulitzer Prize nominated author was willing to shoot the breeze with me about a college class my daughter is taking on Catholicism and how this book might fit into her course probably made me predisposed to like this book. From this short interaction with her, I suspect that McDermott is an attentive professor at Johns Hopkins who isn't just there because of her name, but who really teachers her students. This book is a short and quiet gem. McDermott's way with words is, of course, remarkable. Yes, the book is Catholic, and many of the characters are nuns. But that is just one aspect of them, their job. She does not rely on Catholic tropes or cliches. Instead, the characters are real, well-rounded people, whose Catholicism is important, but only one part of them. McDermott also subtly reminds us of the work these women religious did - the risks they took, the way they reached out into the world in a way that would have been hard for women to do otherwise at that time, and, as one character said, how they were the backbone of the church. (Priests were just Mama's boys, according to the same character.)I wasn't thrilled with the ending, although I knew something was coming due to McDermott's presentation. It made sense in the context of the book, and was a sound narrative, I just didn't like what happened and/or wish it had been explored more. But that was part of the theme of the book - how in that era lots of things weren't openly discussed and people didn't delve too deeply into their feelings.
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  • Sharon May
    January 1, 1970
    Many thanks to NetGalley, the publishers, and Alice McDermott for the opportunity to read and review this wonderful book.This story puts you at the beginning of the 20th century in Catholic Brooklyn. It opens with a death and the pregnant wife, Annie, left behind. The nuns of the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor step in to help Annie, with a job in the laundry room of the convent. There, she and the sisters raise Sally.The writing in this novel is beautiful, as you would expect from McDer Many thanks to NetGalley, the publishers, and Alice McDermott for the opportunity to read and review this wonderful book.This story puts you at the beginning of the 20th century in Catholic Brooklyn. It opens with a death and the pregnant wife, Annie, left behind. The nuns of the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor step in to help Annie, with a job in the laundry room of the convent. There, she and the sisters raise Sally.The writing in this novel is beautiful, as you would expect from McDermott. You will fall in love with these characters - especially the nuns - as they do their best in the world as they see fit. The book is narrated by a group "we" - the children and grandchildren of Sally that let us see a glimpse of their life with these characters.I loved the Catholic history and the lives of the nuns. It's amazing to see how attitudes have changed in our current secular society. But this book shows you both sides of right and wrong and how God will see into your heart and decide what is fair.Highly recommended!!
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  • Paula Kaufman
    January 1, 1970
    I very much admire Alice McDermott's ability to paint character portraits with the detail she offers but without any tedium. In The Ninth Hour she presents us with an interesting story dominated by its well-drawn characters and written in prose that sings from its pages while drawing this reader into the intimacy of so many situations; the laundry, sickrooms, a pivotal train journey, a funeral, all come to life in ways rare in contemporary literary fiction. Clearly, McDermott's focus is on these I very much admire Alice McDermott's ability to paint character portraits with the detail she offers but without any tedium. In The Ninth Hour she presents us with an interesting story dominated by its well-drawn characters and written in prose that sings from its pages while drawing this reader into the intimacy of so many situations; the laundry, sickrooms, a pivotal train journey, a funeral, all come to life in ways rare in contemporary literary fiction. Clearly, McDermott's focus is on these characters and their lives, and just as clearly it is not on the Church in any way except for letting us into some of its orders of nuns. Yet, although as someone who is not familiar with Irish Catholic life during the years covered in The Ninth Hour I learned a lot, I couldn't relate to the story as viscerally as described by other readers.Thanks to NetGalley for proving an ARC in return for an objective review.
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  • Claudia Tessier
    January 1, 1970
    This was my introduction to McDermott, and a wonderful one it was. I started and finished the book in a single day because it captured my interest immediately and that interest never flagged. I suspect part of the attraction came from my having been raised Catholic and so much of the book brought back memories of the church and of the nuns in my life (including my older sister). Each character - Annie, Sally, Sister Jeanne, Sister Illuminata, and more - is well developed, as is how their lives i This was my introduction to McDermott, and a wonderful one it was. I started and finished the book in a single day because it captured my interest immediately and that interest never flagged. I suspect part of the attraction came from my having been raised Catholic and so much of the book brought back memories of the church and of the nuns in my life (including my older sister). Each character - Annie, Sally, Sister Jeanne, Sister Illuminata, and more - is well developed, as is how their lives influence one another. It's about family, it's about Catholicism and nuns, it's about Brooklyn, it's about struggles, and it's about love. Very well done. McDermott's books have now been added to my "to read" list.
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  • Sharlene
    January 1, 1970
    After losing his subway job, Jim decides to end it all committing suicide by gas from his apartment stove. He leaves behind a pregnant wife but luckily elderly Sister St. Saviour of the Little Nursing Sister of the Sick Poor is passing by and thus begins out story. She takes pregnant Annie in hand, helps clean up the apartment. When baby Sally arrives the nuns give Annie a job in the convent's nursery where she can keep her baby with her as she works. This is a typical McDermott novel. It's char After losing his subway job, Jim decides to end it all committing suicide by gas from his apartment stove. He leaves behind a pregnant wife but luckily elderly Sister St. Saviour of the Little Nursing Sister of the Sick Poor is passing by and thus begins out story. She takes pregnant Annie in hand, helps clean up the apartment. When baby Sally arrives the nuns give Annie a job in the convent's nursery where she can keep her baby with her as she works. This is a typical McDermott novel. It's character driven, delving into the lives of very ordinary people who you come to love and hope all works out well for them long after the story is over.
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