Shortlisted for the 2020 Baillie Gifford Prize
"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 (London)
London, 1938. In the suburbs of the city, a young housewife has become the eye in a storm of chaos. In Alma Fielding's modest home, china flies off the shelves and eggs fly through the air; stolen jewelry appears on her fingers, white mice crawl out of her handbag, beetles appear from under her gloves; in the middle of a car journey, a turtle materializes on her lap. The culprit is incorporeal. As Alma cannot call the police, she calls the papers instead.
After the sensational story headlines the news, Nandor Fodor, a Hungarian ghost hunter for the International Institute for Psychical Research, arrives to investigate the poltergeist. But when he embarks on his scrupulous investigation, he discovers that the case is even stranger than it seems.
By unravelling Alma's peculiar history, Fodor finds a different and darker type of haunting, a tale of trauma, alienation, loss and revenge. He comes to believe that Alma's past has bled into her present, her mind into her body. There are no words for processing her experience, so it comes to possess her. As the threat of a world war looms, and as Fodor's obsession with the case deepens, Alma becomes ever more disturbed.
With characteristic rigor and insight, Kate Summerscale brilliantly captures the rich atmosphere of a haunting that transforms into a very modern battle between the supernatural and the subconscious.
About the Author
Kate Summerscale, formerly the literary editor of the Daily Telegraph (London), is the author of The Queen of Whale Cay, which won a Somerset Maugham Award and was short-listed for the Whitbread Biography Award. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, a number one bestseller in the UK, has been translated into more than a dozen languages and won the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction and the British Book Awards Book of the Year. The Wicked Boy won the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime. The Haunting of Alma Fielding was short-listed for the Baillie Gifford Prize. Summerscale lives in London.