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 Tóibín
On a gloomy day in February, Jim sends his wife Annie out to do the shopping before dark falls. He seals their meagre apartment, unhooks the gas tube inside the oven, and inhales.
Sister St. Saviour, a Little Nursing Sister of the Sick Poor, catches the scent of fire doused with water and hurries to the scene: firemen, a gathered crowd and a distraught young widow, who is with child. Moved by Annie's plight, the kindly nun finds her work in the convent's laundry, and Annie's baby daughter grows up amidst the crank of the wringer, the hiss of the iron, the reminiscences of Sister Illuminata and the games of Sister Jeanne. Yet what will become of this convent child? Will Sally join the women who raised her in their unending efforts to alleviate Brooklyn's poverty and sickness?
Tracing three generations of an Irish immigrant family, The Ninth Hour tells, in prose of startling radiance and piercing precision, a story that is both individual and universal in its understanding of the human condition. Meditating on fairness, faith, sacrifice, duty and love, it illuminates, with the depth and sensitivity for which Alice McDermott is known, the bonds that unite or divide us.
About the Author
Alice McDermott is the author of seven novels including After This, Child of My Heart, Charming Billy (winner of the 1998 National Book Award), At Weddings and Wakes, That Night and A Bigamist's Daughter. 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.
Alongside her marvellous descriptions of unbeautiful bodies is an intense lyricism ... McDermott is so attentive to atmospheres, glances, the quietest moments that provoke profound shifts in a character's world ... Her new book unfolds without sentimentality or pity, but with a frankness of gaze that elevates her characters rather than diminishes them. Mercy, it seems, doesn't always take the forms we might imagine -- Molly McCloskey * Guardian *
Beautifully written, heart-wrenching and funny by turns, and offers a deeply vivid and authentic portrayal of Brooklyn long before its hipsters arrived * Sunday Times *
Dealing in simple lives and small dramas, the prose displays an unerring sense of detail, mood, and emotion. A masterful American writer at her best -- Jeffrey Burke * Mail on Sunday *
From the perfect opening sentence of this latest book by the American Pulitzer Prize finalist, you know you are in safe hands ... McDermott depicts with sensuous intensity the texture of lives lived and the intersection of faith and sin in a remarkable novel marked by small, but transformative, acts of grace * Daily Mail *
She is a poet of corporeal description ... It's the way she marries the spirit to the physical world that make her work transcendent. The Ninth Hour is a story with the simple grace of a votive candle in a dark church -- Sarah Begley * Time *
Superb and masterful ... Powerful and sublime ... Her sentences burn on the page * Washington Post *
This is a very fine novel and its focus on the quietly heroic lives of Catholic women in early twentieth-century Brooklyn enriches both McDermott's oeuvre and contemporary fiction more generally -- Sinead Moynihan * Irish Times *
Ms. McDermott has once again managed a marvellous literary feat * Wall Street Journal *
A tour de force ... McDermott is a virtuoso of language and image, allusion and reflection, reference and symbol ... McDermott once again demonstrates her expansively attentive literary care and its quiet power ... Reminds us of the pleasures of literary fiction and its power to illuminate lives and worlds * Boston Globe *
Ramshackle, impoverished Brooklyn is evoked with confidence and precision -- Claire Lowdon * Spectator *
Another exquisite novel in which those who at first appear unremarkable - in this case, nuns in early-20th-century Brooklyn - are revealed as heroines, unflinching in their devotion to the flawed humans around them * O Magazine *
Wonderful ... The pace of this intricate novel, partly narrated by Sally's adult children, builds so subtly that the drama of its second half comes as a shock * Tablet *
The early 20th-century Brooklyn nuns in Alice McDermott's latest novel, The Ninth Hour, couldn't give a toss about the Pope: their moral sense is made flexible by what they've learnt in the slums. They know when to speak, and when to shut their mouths and roll up their sleeves -- Helen Garner * Sydney Morning Herald, Books of the Year 2017 *
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 1st October 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 21.4 x 14.0
Weight (kg): 0.28