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A magnificent new audiobook 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 audiobook 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, and the audio edition is truly unforgettable.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Sara on 01-17-18
Profoundly Thought Provoking
The title of this book, The Ninth Hour, comes from the divine offices of the Christian Liturgy for Nones or the mid-afternoon--usually 3 pm--prayer cycle. More specifically it relates to Christ's last words on the cross when he asks why have you forsaken me. It speaks to the clash between faith and doubt.
The book is beautifully written and grew on me gradually with its gentle power and left me thinking long after I finished listening. McDermott is a master at weaving together storylines into a cohesive whole. She succeeds at making the characters three dimensional, real and completely relatable. The narration was excellent.
The book was set in early 1900s Brooklyn and tells the story of a nursing order of Roman Catholic nuns and the Irish community they served. These sisters tirelessly cared for the sick and the poor of their neighborhood. The story really focused on several generations of a family and their interactions with multiple generations of sisters too.
More than simply presenting the safety net the sisters provided historically, the author delves into concepts of selfishness and selflessness and just how far people will go for those they love. Further, ideas of sacrifice, happiness and where we draw the line when it comes to belief and faith are examined.
On the surface this starts out as a simple story but give it time. Difficult topics ahead--but the writing is more than up to the task. I don't mean to make the book sound like it's all about religion--it's really about how people live out their lives within the framework of belief or unbelief. Excellent historic fiction.
22 of 25 people found this review helpful
By Taryn on 10-11-17
My new fav for 2017! Must listen and read!
First off I am a big McDermott fan. This book is my new favorite and definitely my favorite listen of 2017. Her characters are so beautifully crafted, perfectly imperfect as are all human beings. She brings you right back to the time period, the sights, sounds, smells, emotions. I loved the narration, but now that I finished listening I am going to have to read the hard copy. I need to savor what I may have missed. This is a MUST LISTEN for 2017!
21 of 24 people found this review helpful