Happy Friday, all!
It’s a grey and misty Friday over here, which was perfect for the non-fiction book I just finished: Kate Summerscale’s The Haunting of Alma Fielding, an account of the investigation into a case of supposed poltergeist activity in 1930s England.
But what makes this book so fascinating isn’t just the step by step progression of the case, as Dr. Fodor, the psychic investigator, tries to unravel whether it was truly supernatural or a hoax, but the way the author ties the investigation into a larger picture of an age of anxiety, an England still reeling from the losses of the first World War, terrified by the whispers of war from across the Channel. For anyone who’s fascinated by stories of hauntings– and who loves a good social and cultural history– I highly recommend it.
On the recommendation of a friend, I picked up Sarah Moss’s Ghost Wall last weekend. I read it in one night and I’m still thinking about it. In the 1990s, a teenage girl and her parents join a group of grad students and a professor in an experiment in living like Stone Age Britons– and as it all unravels, the first person narrator starts to break free of the unnatural hold her abusive father has on her. It’s hard to describe but incredibly powerful and compelling.
And then there was Cadfael. There’s always Cadfael. After the intense worlds of Ghost Wall and Alma Fielding, it was terribly relaxing to escape back to the English civil wars of the 12th century with Brother Cadfael and just deal with nice, simple things like marauding bandits and lost heiresses in The Virgin in the Ice.
What have you been reading this week?