• The Haunting of Alma Fielding

  • A True Ghost Story
  • By: Kate Summerscale
  • Narrated by: David Morrissey
  • Length: 8 hrs and 19 mins
  • 3.9 out of 5 stars (63 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Named a Best Book of the Year by NPR The Sunday Times • The New Statesman • The Times • The Spectator • The Telegraph

Shortlisted for the 2020 Baillie Gifford Prize * A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice * A New York Times Book Review Paperback Row Selection

“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.

©2021 Kate Summerscale (P)2021 Penguin Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

“Nobody is better at unpicking stories of ghosts and murders than Kate Summerscale, and this book is one of her best. Set in the unsettling world of the spiritualism-obsessed late 1930s, it is the story of Alma Fielding, a south London woman who claimed to be attacked by her own flying furniture. Was she deluded? A fraud? Or was there really a poltergeist at work? Summerscale has enormous fun finding out, and her oddly haunting story will stay with you for weeks.” (Dominic Sandbrook, The Sunday Times

“Delightful period piece...always prescient about the social status of the women she studies, Summerscale notes that Alma was the very model of a colorless, faceless, powerless housewife. But a housewife with psychic powers could escape those social constraints.” (Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“About women and power, about anxiety of the unknown and the fear of looming war, about the choices people make (consciously or unconsciously) in order to escape certain aspects of their lives.... Summerscale's writing is so inviting, the historical details folded into the narrative so well, that The Haunting of Alma Fielding reads like a novel you don't want to put down.” (Ilana Masad, NPR) 

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What listeners say about The Haunting of Alma Fielding

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Repetition made it tedious and boring.

Had to quit it before half way point. Repetitious tedious and not in story form.

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Repetitive and rambling

Found myself drifting off easily as there didn't seem to be an engaging through line of narrative. Rather it is a rambling description of many events regarding Alma that the protagonist may or may not believe. Not really spooky or all that interesting...

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  • 06-10-21

So riveting!

This story is very spooky, and yet the ghosts may not be real. I listened to this book in one day because the story was so riveting I date not stop.

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Fascinating slice of history!

Brilliant! I listened to this book on a recommendation without really knowing much about what it was about, and wasn'tdisappointed. It covered piritualism, war, trauma, and the evolving understanding of trauma while recounting the history of a famous haunting.

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waste of time

This was an interesting insight into the prewar psychology of a nation and it's people. It was not spooky and it was not entertaining. It's references to modern psychology were outdated and off the mark. At best it was a window into the hysterical thoughts of hysterical people during a tumultuous time.

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awesome

I love this author. All her books are must read and listen. this one doesn't disappoint.

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Good story but not my fav by this author

If you have an interest in paranormal history or the spiritualism movement I recommend this book. The narrator is great but I personally couldn’t get into this book as well as I have with others by this author, who’s one of my favorites of this genre. Still worth the listen.