Ninth Hour
by McDermott, Alice






A portrait of the Irish-American experience is presented through the story of an Irish immigrant's suicide and how it reverberates through innumerable lives in early 20th-century Catholic Brooklyn. By the National Book Award-winning author of Charming Billy.





Alice McDermott is the author of seven previous novels, including After This; Child of My Heart; Charming Billy, winner of the 1998 National Book Award; At Weddings and Wakes; and Someone-all published by FSG. That Night, At Weddings and Wakes, and After This were all finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Her stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the Richard A. Macksey Professor of the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University.





*Starred Review* In this enveloping, emotionally intricate, suspenseful drama, McDermott lures readers into her latest meticulously rendered Irish American enclave, returning to early twentieth-century Brooklyn, the setting for Someone (2013). A man's suicide would have left his young, pregnant widow destitute but for the Little Sisters of the Sick Poor, who care for everyone in their parish with zestful efficiency. Annie is given a job in the convent laundry under the direction of the taciturn, secretly softhearted Sister Illuminata, while young, sweet, surprisingly worldly Sister Jeanne helps Annie care for her clever, funny daughter. Sally thrives in this immaculate basement sanctuary where stains and stinks-evidence of toil, suffering, and sin-are urgently eradicated with soap and prayers. While Annie, in spite of the convent's piety and orderliness, embraces the rampant messiness of life, even illicit love, Sally's calling to become a nun is cruelly tested on a hellish train journey into the "dirty world." Like Alice Munro, McDermott is profoundly observant and mischievously witty, a sensitive and consummate illuminator of the realization of the self, the ravages of illness and loss, and the radiance of generosity. As she considers the struggles of women, faith and inheritance, sacrifice and passion, she pays vivid tribute to the skilled and sustaining sisters, a fading social force. McDermott's extraordinary precision, compassion, and artistry are entrancing and sublime. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This is one of literary master McDermott's most exquisite works, and a national tour and concerted publicity campaign will generate avid requests. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.





In Brooklyn in the early 20th century, The Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor are intimately involved in the lives of their community.When a depressed young man with a pregnant wife turns on the gas in his apartment and takes his own life, among the first to arrive on the scene is an elderly nun. "It was Sister St. Savior's vocation to enter the homes of strangers, mostly the sick and the elderly, to breeze into their apartments and to sail comfortably through their rooms, to open their linen closets or china cabinets or bureau drawers—to peer into their toilets or the soiled handkerchiefs clutched in their hands." By the time the fatherless baby is born, St. Savior will have been so instrumental in the fate of the young widow that the baby will be her namesake, called Sally for short. Sally will be largely raised in the convent, where her mother has been given a job helping out with laundry. The nuns also find a friend for the new mother—a neighbor with a ho useful of babies—then they finagle a baby carriage, and "the two young mothers negotiated the crowded streets like impatient empresses." This desperately needed and highly successful friendship is just the beginning of the benign interference of the Sisters in the private lives and fates of their civilian neighbors. Partly told by a voice from the future who drops tantalizing hints about what's to come—for example, a marriage between the occupants of the baby carriages—this novel reveals its ideas about love and morality through the history of three generations, finding them in their kitchens, sickbeds, train compartments, love nests, and basement laundry rooms. Everything that her readers, the National Book Award committee, and the Pulitzer Prize judges love about McDermott's (Someone, 2013, etc.) stories of Irish-Catholic American life is back in her eighth novel. Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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