The Haunting of Alma Fielding:
A True Ghost Story
by Kate Summerscale
Published by Penguin Press
on April 27, 2021
Genre: Adult, Nonfiction, Paranormal
Length: 368 pages
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London, 1938. In the suburbs of the city, an ordinary housewife has become the eye in a storm of chaos. In Alma Fielding's modest home, china flies off the shelves, eggs fly through the air: stolen jewelry appears on her fingers. Nandor Fodor reads of the case, and hastens to the scene of the haunting. But when Fodor starts his scrupulous investigation, he discovers that the case is even stranger than it seems.
Taking place in the 1930s, during the big spiritualism boom after the war, this nonfiction ghost story centers around a middle-class British housewife, Alma Fielding, who was known locally to be haunted by a rather destructive poltergeist,
and Nandor Fodor, a Hungarian 'ghost hunter' from the Institute of Psychical Research, who was determined to either prove Alma as legit or as a charlatan, like so many others at the time.
Most of this book is made up of the detailed accounts of Alma Fielding's 'hauntings' or 'apports', but also highlights the spiritualist era with its plethora of mediums and their 'tricks'. There are a lot of connections to Alma's occurrences and other mediums that Fodor had worked with, or known to be ousted.
I love a good ghost story and have read quite a bit on mediums/spiritualists in the past so this sounded fascinating.
The first half of the book reads as a running account of Emma's hauntings and interjects with Fodor's interactions or knowledge of sham mediums and somehow seems to suggest that Fodor is inscrutable for this reason, though it includes a case where he is bamboozled. It seems to switch from Alma's occurrences being legit to almost setting her up to catch her in an act.
I did have a few hangups with it, but WARNING because these may be just slightly spoilery:
The book presents Alma's case and suggests that her poltergeist may be caused by frenetic energy but then never really proves or explains it. Likewise, I was hoping for a little more in-depth explanation about the connections made to Alma's childhood traumas. A little psychology... anything.
Still, it's an interesting read and perfect for the upcoming spooky season!