Suicide affects people on so many levels. It can affect a person, a family, a community, etc. When Jim commits suicide in his own home, the consequences stretch several generations.
Annie finds herself a pregnant widow. She worries about what is to be done with her husband’s body and what she will do with a child on the way. The nuns from the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor come in to help.
Due to the nature of Jim’s death, he cannot be buried on church ground. Sister St. Savior does all she can to get the funeral done and over with. She also helps Annie to get a job at the convent, helping Sister Illuminata in the laundry. Annie spends her days helping in the basement of the laundry, bringing her daughter Sally with her.
Sally grow up a convent child and begins to have a heavy desire to join the church as a nun. With the guidance and counsel of the convent nuns, she sets off to begin her journey as a nun, holy sanctioned by God to do good in the world.
But the train ride to Chicago is such a strain on Sally, that she heads straight home as soon as she arrives. Sally comes home to the shock of her mother’s own sin. Sally seeks to make penance for her mother’s affair by spending her days with the frail wife of her mother’s lover.
The Ninth Hour is a book that gives a great insight into the lives of nuns. It really fascinated me to learn more about them. Can you imagine what life in the past would be like if there weren’t nuns? (Read Call the Midwife.)
The Ninth Hour is written really well, but the plot is just lacking. It’s a well written plot, but there’s not enough conflict for it to be extremely enjoyable. I felt I was reading one stagnant story. You get glimpses into the future with the next generation, but it’s a little confusing with just one little snippet of conversation to go by.
This book did get the National Book Award, though how I’m not really sure. It has an average of a 3 star rating, but I guess the judges really seemed to like it.