By Kate Summerscale
Kate Summerscale’s The Haunting of Alma Fielding takes place in London, on the eve of World War II. Alma, a young housewife, and her family begin experiencing poltergeist activity. In her home, white mice crawl from her handbag, eggs and china fly through the air, and dressers topple over.
Alma reports the activity to the papers and soon her story finds its way to Nandor Fodor, a Hungarian ghost hunter working for the International Institute for Psychical Research. Fodor had investigated other reported hauntings and even went to interview Gef, a mongoose that supposedly could talk and cause mischief. Fodor’s investigation of Alma consisted of interviews, seances, x-rays, and careful observation by Fodor and others. Although many in the psychical research field believed poltergeist activity was related to the world of spirits, Fodor argued they might be produced by living individuals who had experienced traumatic events. His somewhat Freudian approach upset Alma and others in the psychical research field.
This book is an engaging and pleasant read. From it, one will gain valuable insights into the time period and developments in the fields of psychiatry, spiritualism, and psychical research. Sigmund Freud even puts in an appearance.
Book Review by Art, Assistant Librarian