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Om forfatteren

Kate Summerscale is the former literary editor of the Daily Telegraph and the author of The Queen of Whale Cay, which won the Somerset Maugham Award and was shortlisted for the Whitbread biography award. She lives in London.

Værker af Kate Summerscale

Associated Works

The Complete Uncle (2013) — Bidragyder, nogle udgaver32 eksemplarer

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London, England, UK
London, England, UK
Bedales School
Oxford University
Stanford University
Kort biografi
Kate Summerscale was brought up in Japan, England and Chile and now lives in London with her son.
She took a double-first at Oxford University and earned a master's degree in journalism from Stanford University. She has worked for The Independent and The Daily Telegraph. An award-winning author herself, she has judged various literary competitions, including the Booker Prize.



A book that takes time to read, but I liked it.

In the tense, uneasy atmosphere of the late 1930s, the presumed medium Mrs Alma Fielding and a team of investigators headed by Nandor Fodor embark together on an exchange of experiences that become more and more twisted. To keep the interest of Fodor and his group, and presumably the fee they pay her, Alma Fielding gradually expands her scope of “psychical” manifestations, becoming bolder in the process. The investigators, as they were increasingly suspicious of being tricked, became more and more intrusive and possessive. Summerscale gives Fodor the benefit of the doubt, as he understood that his actions risked doing real harm to Mrs. Fielding.

This is less a story about a medium, her troubled personality and her tricks, than a story about the investigator, Fodor. Summerscale is kind about his efforts to seek truth in his own way, and the evolution of his beliefs, while recognising that he went too far and had to be stopped.

As history goes, this is almost a psychological novel. The events described in this book affected only a few people, but no doubt affected them deeply.
… (mere)
EmmanuelGustin | 16 andre anmeldelser | May 10, 2024 |
The publisher’s description sums this book up neatly and accurately, but it doesn’t convey what a compelling story it tells. It’s a fascinating and gruesome murder mystery/detective story, with well-drawn characters and a focus on the relevant details, but all soundly documented by primary sources, including police and court documents, correspondence of the people involved, newspaper articles, and similar historic documents. It also looks at the popular reaction to the case and the great influence it had on the creation and rise in popularity of detective fiction. Everything is tied up neatly by the end, but it ends up being a rather melancholy tale when all is said and done.

Summerscale does a wonderful job of presenting interesting and relevant details without bogging down the history with a lot of boring facts. I typically hate reading history, so maybe this style of telling would disappoint historians, but I found it very engaging, like reading fiction. The notes (aside from a few explanatory notes at the ends of chapters) are endnotes, so I could flip to the back if I wanted to see her sources, or ignore them until a convenient lull in the story. So I guess I can tolerate history after all: just give me a lurid story told like fiction, with historic details inconspicuously tucked away out of sight.
… (mere)
Charon07 | 172 andre anmeldelser | Apr 22, 2024 |
This book grew on me.

This is the story, every detail of it verifiable and meticulously researched of Robert Coombes, who murdered his mother, aged 13. The days leading up to the discovery of his mother's body, his arrest, trial, incarceration, years at Broadmoor are told in impressive detail, and a picture emerges of the justice system of the time, and of the apparently enlightened regime at Broadmoor.

The later, equally fascinating part of the book concentrated on Robert's years of 'freedom', at a Salvation Army hostel, in Australia, his war years and the simple life he made for himself afterwards. Here Summerscale had to rely more on contact with individuals who knew him, or whose relatives had known him. The only surprise was that she revealed to them the fact that Robert had been convicted of murder, which I felt was a shocking and unnecessary breach of confidence.

At first I found the book's style dry and over-reliant on what at first seemed irrelevant detail. As I read on, I came to appreciate the breadth of the picture that built up of life and justice in a busy, noisy working class community in late nineteenth century London.
… (mere)
Margaret09 | 37 andre anmeldelser | Apr 15, 2024 |
An Infamous Murder in Victorian London 1895, Robert Coombes (age 13) and his brother Nattie (age 12) were seen spending lavishly around the docklands of East London. The boys told neighbors they had been left home alone while their mother visited family in Liverpool, but their aunt was suspicious. She eventually forced the brothers to open the house to her and found the badly decomposed body of their mother in a bedroom upstairs. Robert and Nattie were arrested for matricide and sent for trial at the Old Bailey.
Robert confessed, but his lawyers argued that he was insane. Nattie struck a plea and gave evidence against his brother. Robert seemed to feel no remorse for what he had done, and neither the prosecution nor the defense could find a motive for the murder. The judge sentenced Robert to detention in Broadmoor, a criminal lunatic asylum. Broadmoor turned out to be the beginning of a new life for Robert. After 17 years he was released and made his way to NSW-Australia (his brother Nattie was a stoker on a Australian Army ship).
Here, Robert enlisted for military service and he was noted as serving with bravery as a stretcher-bearer. Upon the end of the war he settled in Coffs Harbour, and led a mainly self-sufficient, isolate life. During this time, he provided a safe place to Harry Mulville, a young boy who suffered extreme physical abuse from his stepfather. Robert became a somewhat father figure to Harry (who had no knowledge of his mentor's past). After Robert passed away, Harry petitioned the Army to provide a memorial plaque in recognition of Robert's military service. This was a very enjoyable read as it was based on fact and encouraged me to google the facts.
… (mere)
rata | 37 andre anmeldelser | Apr 6, 2024 |



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