The Ninth Hour

Author(s): Alice McDermott

Fiction | Vicky Recommends | Laura Recommends

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 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 book 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.

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From the National Book Award-winning author comes a luminous, deeply humane novel about three generations of an Irish immigrant family in 1940s and 1950s Brooklyn - for fans of Anne Tyler, Anne Enright and Colm Toibin

Short-listed for Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year 2017.

McDermott's highly crafted writing - her poised sentences, finely wrought imagery, intricate structuring and emotionally laden detail - is not just clever, but poignant * Sunday Times * Prose that can feel almost physically radiant ... Any emotional turn brings a chance in light, often imbued with a sense of grace ... McDermott is an extraordinary writer * Sunday Telegraph * Alice McDermott deserves to be far better known in the UK ... In McDermott's stripped-down prose, details as commonplace as a vase of fading lilacs speak volumes, making for a complex portrait that's both particular and universal * Daily Mail * Her wisdom, gently hewn out of the stuff of every day, shines through ... Here is the simple but priceless gift of seeing the beauty of things and knowing that even through pain and loss that beauty will abide and indeed glow brighter the longer we look * The Times * It is easy to fall in love with Alice McDermott's prose. Her endearing details and graceful sentences value the ordinary confusions of day-to-day lives' * Times Literary Supplement * Her sentences know themselves so beautifully: what each has to deliver and how best to do it, within a modicum of space, with minimal fuss * New York Times *

Alice McDermott is the award-winning author of seven previous novels: A Bigamist's Daughter, That Night, At Weddings and Wakes, Charming Billy (winner of the National Book Award 1998), Child of My Heart, After This and Someone (shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2015 and the National Book Critics Circle Award 2014, and longlisted for the National Book Award 2013). She has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize three times, and has also been nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award. She lives with her family outside Washington DC.

General Fields

  • : 9781408854617
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • : Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • : September 2017
  • : 216mm X 135mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : October 2017
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Export/Airside
  • : English
  • : 813/.54
  • : 256
  • : Alice McDermott
  • : Paperback