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The Secret Rooms: A True Story of a Haunted Castle, a Plotting Duchess, and a Family Secret Paperback – December 31, 2013
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“With gripping detail and graceful prose…Bailey’s work can best be described as a work of probative history written with the storytelling skills of a latter-day Agatha Christie.” – The Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Populated with a bevy of real-life aristos who played by their own twisted and privileged set of rules, a searing portrait of family intrigue, dysfunction, and hubris—a la Downton Abbey—emerges.” – Booklist
“Bailey is a truly dogged detective… a compelling exposé” – Kirkus Reviews
“Bailey deserves commendation for her meticulous research as well as her storytelling.” – Publisher’s Weekly
“Gripping. Reads like the best kind of mystery story. It is a tale of mistresses and heirlooms, cowardice and connivance.” – The Sunday Times (London)
“Compelling. A remarkable piece of research which throws a bright shaft of light on powerful people, hypocrisy and the First World War.” – The Guardian
Top Customer Reviews
John Henry Montagu, the 9th Duke of Rutland, was a second son. His elder brother died shortly before the first gap in his edited correspondence. He had three sisters, one of whom was Diana, later the socialite and wife of Duff Cooper. Bailey takes us methodically through her search for the truth. She asks why the Duke died in 1940, locked away in a set of rooms to which only a handful of people were admitted, at his family home Belvoir Castle? What made him spurn a more comfortable sickroom for the spartan one he chose, in order to remain there completing his work, even when he was seriously ill? What, in other words, did he have to hide?
This is a work of great research and the author involves you completely in John's life and that of his family.Read more ›
Enter TV writer-director-producer Catherine Bailey, who'd chosen Belvoir Castle's archives as the starting place for her research for a book about what became of the hundreds of Belvoir estate volunteers who, at their duke's urging, had gone off to France to fight World War I, and how their experiences had affected those who returned and their way of life after.
But Bailey soon found an even more compelling WWI story to research and write about. The 8th duke's son John, after the war and after he inherited the duchy, closed off the castle's muniment rooms and spent his last years locked inside those five rooms full of family history, doing something he considered urgent and private...and so important to him that, when he developed the pneumonia that would kill him, he refused to leave those cold rooms and whatever it was he was doing there. Nor would he let his own or the king's own doctor enter and try to save his life. He died there alone on an old sofa...having almost, but not quite, completed his mysterious task. After John's death in 1940, his son Charles, the 10th duke, ordered that the rooms be sealed and untouched, and so they remained until Ms. Bailey requested to see what information they could give her for her book. Soon it became clear to her WHAT John had been up to, but not WHY. Finding the answer to that would lead to the research that underpins a book the London newspapers would label "astonishing, jaw-dropping, gripping, compelling, remarkable, superb," etcetera. I agree and I suspect most readers will, too.
British historian Catherine Bailey has written one of the finest books on WW1 that I've read. Her new book, "The Secret Rooms" is a rather melodramatically-titled book about the Manners family - the Dukes of Rutland - and their castle "Belvoir" (pronounced "Beaver"). Bailey had intended to write a book about the Belvoir estate and the affect the war had on its thousands of tenants. However, once she got to work, perusing the war records at the castle, she stumbled upon a more interesting, more personal story. And that's the story she tells in "The Secret Rooms".
John Manners, the 9th Duke of Rutland, died in 1940 in a back part of his huge castle. He had sequestered himself in these rooms for a few months before his death at the age of 54, working frantically on his family's legacy. The British government had sent a huge number of boxes of archives to be protected from the German bombing of London, but it was not these records the Duke was interested in.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Just got a used copy of this....what a wonderful book. The writing is fantastic, even in areas with some rather tedious military details. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Amazon Customer
I mistakenly expected this book to be about the subject matter of the author's research--as opposed to " THE STORY of how Catherine Bailey set out to do some research for a... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Fred M. Jeffers
I'm afraid I did not enjoy this book. Long descriptions, just not my cup of tea. I read it a while back, so I am unable to give you a full review. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mrs. Jenny Harris
While this was an interesting story and had a great premise, the story moves very slow and at times. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Casey K. Conrad
Rarely have I bought a book loaded with such promise which turned out to be such a dud. Page after boring page never seemed to catch my attention long enough to care to find out... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Guinevere
One of the most boring books I have ever read, too many pages of inconsequential minutiae about WWI. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Gaga
Fast easy read but the story petered out. Not as exciting as the description.Published 4 months ago by jeff spear