Books Past

Apr 2018: The Ninth Hour

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

Fiction suggested by Barbara

Spanning the 20th century, story of a widow and her daughter and the nuns who serve their Irish-American immigrant Catholic Brooklyn community. The optimism of faith, the suffering of reality.

On a dim winter afternoon, a young Irish immigrant opens a gas tap in his Brooklyn tenement. 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.