The Ninth Hour

A magnificent new novel from one of America’s finest writersa 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 a gas tap 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 . . . belonged to himself alone.” In the aftermath of the fire that follows, Sister St. Saviour, an aging nun, a Little Nursing Sister of the Sick Poor, appears, unbidden, to direct the way forward for his widow and his unborn child.

In Catholic Brooklyn in the early part of the twentieth century, decorum, superstition, and shame collude to erase the man’s brief existence, and yet his suicide, though never spoken of, reverberates through many lives—testing the limits and the demands of love and sacrifice, of forgiveness and forgetfulness, even through multiple generations. Rendered with remarkable delicacy, heart, and intelligence, Alice McDermott’s The Ninth Hour is a crowning achievement of one of the finest American writers at work today.


The Ninth Hour - Alice McDermott Summary

Nones (), also known as None (Latin: Nona, "Ninth"), the Ninth Hour, or the Midafternoon Prayer, is a fixed time of prayer of the Divine Office of almost all the traditional Christian liturgies. It consists mainly of psalms and is said around 3 pm, about the ninth hour after dawn. Following Vatican II, the hour is optional in the Catholic Church: it may be said whenever convenient during the day or omitted entirely. However, bishops and priests are still expected to recite the full sequence of hours, as closely as possible to the traditional time of day...


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