The Haunting of Alma Fielding
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2020 BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE
longlisted for the ALCS GOLD DAGGER FOR NON-FICTION
A BOOK OF THE YEAR IN THE SUNDAY TIMES, THE TIMES, DAILY TELEGRAPH, i PAPER, NEW STATESMAN, SPECTATOR AND THE SUNDAY EXPRESS
‘A page-turner with the authority of history’ PHILIPPA GREGORY
‘As gripping as a novel. An engaging, unsettling, deeply satisfying read’ SARAH WATERS
‘A wonderful book about the world of mediums’ HILARY MANTEL, Open Book, BBC Radio 4
London, 1938. Alma Fielding, an ordinary young woman, begins to experience supernatural events in her suburban home.
Nandor Fodor – a Jewish-Hungarian refugee and chief ghost hunter for the International Institute for Psychical research – begins to investigate. In doing so he discovers a different and darker type of haunting: trauma, alienation, loss – and the foreshadowing of a nation’s worst fears. As the spectre of Fascism lengthens over Europe, and as Fodor’s obsession with the case deepens, Alma becomes ever more disturbed.
With rigour, daring and insight, the award-winning pioneer of historical narrative non-fiction Kate Summerscale shadows Fodor’s enquiry, delving into long-hidden archives to find the human story behind a very modern haunting.
‘An empathetic, meticulous account of a spiritual unravelling; a tribute to the astonishing power of the human mind – but also a properly absorbing, baffling, satisfying detective story’ AIDA EDEMARIAM
A PICK OF THE AUTUMN IN THE TIMES, SUNDAY TIMES, OBSERVER AND THE GUARDIAN
Hidden realities of a different kind lie beneath the story of Kate Summerscale's The Haunting of Alma Fielding: A True Ghost Story, which delves into the 1930s case of the "Croydon Poltergeist", investigated by Nandor Fodor, chief ghost hunter for the International Institute for Psychical Research * Guardian, Autumn highlights * Gothic, dark and scandalous ... A gripping account * Sunday Times * A chilling real life ghost story ... This book scared me witless * Red * [A] wonderful book about the world of mediums ... It deals, very soberly, with a subject that is often treated in a very trivial way. If I could have created a non-fiction companion to Beyond Black, that would be the book -- HILARY MANTEL, Open Book, BBC Radio 4 Expertly told, with all the twists and turns of a chilly novel by Wilkie Collins or Barbara Vine ... The more Summerscale delves, the more she finds out about the hidden compartments of the human mind -- Craig Brown * Mail on Sunday * A terrific true ghost story ... her best book since The Suspicions of Mr Whicher ... She has achieved the perfect balance between her central story and its cultural context. * Guardian * With The Haunting of Alma Fielding, Kate Summerscale does for ghosts what she did for a murder in her very successfulThe Suspicions of Mr Whicher * Times Literary Supplement * Riveting ... One of the many great pleasures of The Haunting of Alma Fielding, as in all of her work, is her knack of recreating the feverish atmosphere of the time -- Daisy Goodwin * Sunday Times * A detective novel, a ghost yarn and a historical record rolled into one. Blending fact and fiction, it is an electrifying reconstruction * i paper * Summerscale revisits these strange events with her customary wide research and in lucid and unadorned prose...she draws a convincing and compelling portrait of a moment of mass anxiety in which so deep was the longing to believe that anything could become believable * Literary Review * London, 1938, and a young woman begins to experience supernatural events. Is she really haunted, or is something else going on? The author of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher investigates * Observer, Autumn highlights * With her eye for evocative period detail, her sensitivity to the quirks and poignancies of human motivation, and her brilliant storytelling skills, Summerscale has taken this corker of a case and made it as gripping as a novel. An engaging, unsettling, deeply satisfying read -- SARAH WATERS An engrossing, weirdly timely book about the relationship between the bodily self and the trauma of a haunted mind * Metro * Prepare not to see much broad daylight, literal or metaphorical, for days if you read this ... the atmosphere evoked is something I will never forget * The Times * Astonishingly gripping. As ever, she offers fascinating insights into what the story tells you about the era in which it unfolded and spotting ingenious parallels in contemporary art and literature, but without ever allowing the narrative pace to slow up * Sunday Express * As with her previous books, Summerscale weaves personal records with meticulous research carried out over three years, to not just resurrect the people involved, but the world in which they live. We are walking with the dead, but the author is conjuring something more believable, more unsettling, than anything you will find in a dodgy seance hall * Evening Standard * Summerscale's account of their strange relationship is astonishingly gripping, with the bonus of a pleasingly chilling spookiness * Daily Mirror * Summerscale's unsettling story offers her most nuanced, empathetic work to date - a bright and engrossing tale of the grey space between hoax and haunting * Prospect * The uncanny underscores everything in this based-on-history ghost story from the author of The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher. Alma Fielding, a woman living in Croydon in the 1930s, appears to be haunted by a poltergeist intent on destroying her home. Is it genuine, is it coming from her own state of mind, or is it seeping in from the real spectres of the pre-war world? * Sainsbury's Magazine * The Suspicions of Mr Whicher author returns with another intriguing nonfiction story. It is 1938 and poor old Alma Fielding's home is being disturbed by the Croydon Poltergeist * The Times, Autumn highlights * A page-turner with the authority of history - The Haunting of Alma Fielding will stay with the reader as powerfully as the mystery at the heart of the story. Why should a woman - happily married and moderately well off, smash up her own home blaming a poltergeist. Or, if she was in the grip of another will - who was it? An unvarnished account of unknowable things at a time of deep unease -- PHILIPPA GREGORY Another true-life mystery from the author of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher * Sunday Times, Autumn Highlights * This spooky narrative non-fiction is as gripping as any thriller and the perfect read for winter nights. Summerscale delves deep into historical archives to bring to life the strange story of a woman whose home appears to be haunted by what becomes known as the Croydon Poltergeist * Good Housekeeping * An empathetic, meticulous account of a spiritual unravelling; a tribute to the astonishing power of the human mind - but also a properly absorbing, baffling, satisfying detective story -- AIDA EDEMARIAM Superb ... The Haunting of Alma Fielding will have you up all night and grip you to your bones ... An extraordinary feat of historical research and imaginative sympathy. Alma emerges from the pages a living, breathing woman - and one you can't forget. Kate Summerscale has another smash hit on her hands -- KATE WILLIAMS Praise for Kate Summerscale: She has turned a sepia photograph into a film that runs through the mind in glorious and unimpeachable Technicolor -- Rachel Cooke * Observer * Summerscale's brilliance lies in charting, with beautiful precision, a story's strange echoes and reverberations -- Craig Brown * Mail on Sunday * No other writer could have made the case so fascinating and so vivid ... It would be impossible to read this dry-eyed -- Cressida Connolly * Spectator * An extraordinary book which will stay with you * Daily Express * Gripping... Summerscale is an exquisite storyteller. She is judicious in her use of detail, subtle in her unspoken connections between the past and the present -- Daisy Goodwin * The Times * The finest documentary writing -- John le Carre Absolutely riveting -- Sarah Waters * Guardian * As Kate Summerscale has proved before, she has a wonderfully sharp eye for stories which turn out not to be quite what they seem... a remarkably heartening story * Daily Mail * Scrupulous and occasionally startling -- Rachel Cooke * Observer * Simply superb -- Alexandra Harris * Guardian * Extraordinary -- Philippa Gregory * Daily Telegraph * I was hooked after the first few pages. It's as good as non-fiction could possibly get -- Victoria Hislop * Daily Mail * A scalpel-sharp investigative mind -- John Carey * Sunday Times * I can't think of another book which takes you so fast into the smells, tastes and atmosphere of that time -- Doris Lessing Nothing less than a masterpiece -- Craig Brown * Mail on Sunday *
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