The Ninth Hour

The Ninth Hour, National Book Award-winner Alice McDermott's eighth novel, is a multi-generational saga set in Brooklyn, N.Y., in the early 20th century.

When Irish immigrant Jim commits suicide, he leaves his pregnant wife, Annie, in a tenement apartment that's almost burned down by his act. Suicide and depression are not spoken of in this mostly Catholic community, but the kind nuns of the local Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor convent are determined to care for Annie and her new baby girl. Elderly Sister St. Savior finds Annie a job helping Sister Iluminata in the convent's basement laundry, where vibrant baby Sally grows up among the beloved nuns.

Although the story focuses on Sally, it spans generations to encompass her mother and her children, with the nuns a constant presence. The Little Nursing Sisters have surrendered their lives in order to serve their community, and Annie and Sally hold a special place in their hearts. Time marches on and young Sister Jeanne grows old; still, Annie's husband's suicide reverberates through the family and the community for decades.

McDermott's elegant prose pulls the reader into a vivid portrait of immigrant life in Brooklyn in the 20th century. This immersive and poignant novel explores life and love, sacrifice and heartbreak, secrets and consequences. --Suzan L. Jackson, freelance writer and author of Book By Book blog

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