The Ninth Hour is a novel by Alice McDermott. It follows a single mother named Annie. After the suicide of her husband, Annie and her baby Sally enter the care of a group of nuns called the Little Nursing Sisters. Sally grows up in the convent and chooses to become a nun, but after encountering the world's suffering and sins, she thinks better of it. Annie has an affair with a married man, while a compassionate nun, Sister Jeanne, thinks of ways to save her soul. Sally learns that through sacrifice, she could act as a spiritual proxy to atone for the sins of her mother. Sally contemplates the struggle of good and evil in the world, and realizes that sometimes it may be best to do something bad so that good could ultimately prevail. The novel explores themes of desire, purity, secrets, and violence.