Title: The Hairbrush and the Shoe: A True Ghost Story
Author: Jeanne D. Stanton
Length: 211 pages
Release Date: April 21, 2020
Recommended for Fans of: ghost stories, paranormal podcasts
When a workman is pushed and hissed at by something invisible on the stairs of her family’s 150-year-old townhouse, Jeanne Stanton must confront the possibility that a ghost inhabits. She proceeds in the way any former Harvard Business School case writer would: she embarks upon a rigorous search for proof of the ghost’s existence and identity, exploring the literature and lore of ghosts; the practices of mediums, psychics, and “ghost busters;” and the various attempts that have been made over the decades to verify ghostly sounds and sights through scientific methods. After visits to a psychic provide insights but not proof, Stanton enters the equally mysterious realms of physics and neurology, hoping science has answers.
Notables encountered during her research efforts include Henry James, Arthur Conan Doyle, Oliver Sacks, and Sigmund Freud, the latter a colleague of her home’s original owner. Wry and witty, Stanton takes time out to laugh at her own futile attempts at ghost detection―spending a sleepless night in an allegedly haunted bedroom, creeping along the edges of rooms in search of cold spots―along the way. Determined to get to the bottom of the ghost business, Stanton wavers between skepticism and belief, searching for definitive evidence―and almost failing to find it. Almost.
When unexplained occurrences convinced Stanton her house might be haunted, she began researching the paranormal to prove the existence of ghosts. This is a memoir of her research, chronicling her investigations into the validity of documented paranormal cases.
She explores the history of Spiritualism and seances; the science of quantum physics; the psychology of belief; portrayals of ghosts in fiction; and practices of mediums, psychics, and TV ghost hunters. She acknowledges rampant fraud in the industry, but also identifies cases so inexplicable they could only be the result of paranormal activity.
Some sections of the book got a bit repetitive, but the only section that really dragged for me was the chapter about the candidates for her ghost. If you are from Boston and interested in the history of the Boston Brahmins you may enjoy that sections, but I did not find that chapter particularly riveting because it was the most removed from actual paranormal experiences.
As a fan of the paranormal, I was already familiar with a lot of the information Stanton presented, but I enjoyed reading her perspectives as she consolidated information from a vast array of paranormal resources. This is a fascinating read for anyone interested in learning about the paranormal; although, despite the author’s convictions, it cannot offer definitive proof.
Thank you to Book Sparks for sending me a finished copy of this book for promotional purposes.