The Ninth Hour (Signed Book)

The Ninth Hour (Signed Book)

by Alice McDermott

Hardcover(Signed Edition)

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374537586
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 09/19/2017
Edition description: Signed Edition
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

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.


Bethesda, Maryland

Date of Birth:

June 27, 1953

Place of Birth:

Brooklyn, New York


B.A., State University of New York-Oswego, 1975; M.A., University of New Hampshire, 1978

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The Ninth Hour 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written, this book takes you back to another time with mystery and reality wound together.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Found this very depressing. Would not recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alice McDermott does it again! This book is full of interwoven stories about what it means to be human. The daily struggles to find peace and goodness in the dark and ugly. Full of symbolism from the Catholic faith - I read it twice and her poetic writing and understanding of human nature never fails to amaze me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once again, Alice McDermott has gifted her readers with a thoughtful , compassionate novel . The story is written with intelligence and insight into human foibles . Her characters are well developed , especially the nuns who play a major role in the book.
Anonymous 5 months ago
This story was very different from what I anticipated. After the story started off with a suicide that left behind a young, pregnant widow, I had assumed the story would mostly focus on this woman. But alas, it is mostly about her daughter, Sally. This book was full of ups and downs and emotional moments. Everything was very vividly described, which was mostly nice, but sometimes I felt as though the words passed by too slowly. And there were times that I struggled to figure out where in everyone’s timeline the story was taking place. I also struggled to figure out the plot of this book. It felt like a bunch of scenes that were just strung together to tell the tale of this one family, and sometimes it wasn’t all that cohesive. I appreciated the glimpse into the lives of all of these characters, and while I liked almost all of them, I didn’t particularly feel super connected to any of them. I think there was a lot of wasted potential. I would have loved to have seen more of Annie (the widow) and her life, especially as she engages in an affair with the married milkman. It also would have been nice to get into more of these character’s heads. This story was told from the third person, but never from one of these characters directly. So I constantly had to infer emotions and whatnot from everyone’s words and actions. This got to be a little tedious at times. And for some reason unbeknownst to me, the author seemed to have some weird obsession with describing everyone’s bodily functions. In very vivid, explicit detail. I got very squicked out at certain points while reading this book. I skimmed past certain scenes until the graphic descriptions were over. Overall, I found this an interesting book that spanned multiple generations and really got right to the roots of what it means to be brought up in the heart of a Catholic convent. My heart ached for little Sally and Annie as they had to subscribe to the nuns’ way of life. There is so much guilt and shame for poor Sally as she struggles to figure out what she wants to do with her life. While the story itself was a very interesting concept and absolutely enthralling at certain points, it was lacking in a few key places—the middle of the story dragged by while the end felt incredibly rushed, which is why I’m only giving this book three stars.
Yani1 8 months ago
I was very disappointed. I only kept reading because I was hoping it would get better. By jumping from character to character, the author loses the opportunity to fully flesh out her characters. Only after reading reviews of this book was I aware of who were the narrators.
Shawscribbles More than 1 year ago
Another shift from the usual books I review, this is a lovely story of lives intertwined and the history of a family across generations. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Alice McDermott weaves a tale that captured me from the first page. Told from the view point of aged children of long dead parents, the reader is taken back several generations in time to hear the lives and deaths grandparents and great grandparents along with the ever present nuns that nurse and carry them through their lives. A time long past now, but beautifully painted for modern day readers. I was particularly moved by the role the nuns played in the characters lives. Real women who literally and figuratively nurse and care for their flock, they reveal a depth of understanding and empathy that the other characters can only try to strive for. These women understand far more about sin and love than the reader may first believe. Touching on the themes of redemption, loss, and forgiveness overshadowed with the unmentionable "sin" of mental illness, this is an amazing book.
litpixie More than 1 year ago
I adore the work of Alice McDermott, and as soon as one of her books is released I have to add to my collection, normally as a Christmas gift and this is no exception. Like most of McDermott's other novels this is a quiet book about New York and the people who live there. The story centers on the Little Sisters of the Poor and a child of the convent and her mother; Sally and Annie. It's a beautiful novel, with a twist at the end that completely surprised me. I won't go into too much of the story since I don't want to spoil it for anyone else.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Piney10 More than 1 year ago
I would probably rate this a 3.7 but because I really love Alice McDermott and her staff writing, I am rounding up to a 4. Her prose is absolutely exquisite. That being said, this book failed to engage me in the same way as her others. Similar to her other books, it focused on the Irish American community. It takes place in Brooklyn in the early 20th century. A book on immigrants and their struggles, but in this one, the Church was more primarily focused on a Catholic order of nuns who treated the sick and the poor along with the theme of sacrifice.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
or 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this little story...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put it down and now years later I cannot forget it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago