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The Ninth Hour

A Novel

Kushiel's Legacy: Book #47
By Alice McDermott
Narrated by Euan Morton / 8 hours 7 minutes

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.

Bookseller Recommendation

The Ninth Hour

“Alice McDermott's dazzling The Ninth Hour turns on the contradictions that confound our need to reconcile with mortality. The empathetic characters, at once agents and benefactors of Christian charity, grow to realize not just the grace but also the hubris of their faith. A stunning work of generational storytelling, The Ninth Hour is compulsively readable and deeply thought-provoking. McDermott is a master artisan of humanity.”

Interabang Books image Lori Feathers, Interabang Books

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.

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“[T]he precision of a master...[A] great novel.”

The Wall Street Journal

About the Author

Alice McDermott is the author of several novels, including After This; Child of My Heart; Charming Billy, winner of the 1998 National Book Award; and At Weddings and Wakes, all published by FSG. That Night, At Weddings and Wakes, and After This were all finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. McDermott lives with her family outside Washington, D.C.


“Stunning…McDermott has created a haunting and vivid portrait of an Irish Catholic clan in early 20th century America.”

The Associated Press

“McDermott has extended her range and deepened it, allowing for more darkness, more generous lashings of the spiritual . . . Vivid and arresting...Marvelously evocative.”

Mary Gordon, The New York Times Book Review

“Beautifully observed, quietly absorbing...This enveloping novel, too, is a tonic, if not a cure.”

Heller McAlpin, NPR

Related Reading

In 'The Ninth Hour,' A Tonic For The Ills Of The World

In Alice McDermott’s Novel, A Cloistered Life Blows Open
The New York Times

Alice McDermott’s new novel begins with suicide and culminates in murder
The Washington Post

Review: Grace and Gumption in Alice McDermott's The Ninth Hour

Kushiel's Legacy Series

Isn’t it funny how we all die at the same time? Always at the end of our lives. Why worry? The madness with which suffering was dispersed in the world defied logic. History was easy: the past with all loss burned out of it, all sorrow worn out of it—all that was merely personal comfortably removed. Fairness demanded that grief should find succor, that wounds should heal, insult and confusion find recompense and certainty, that every living person God had made should not, willy-nilly, be forever unmade.
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