What impressed me the most about The Secret Rooms: A True Story of a Haunted Castle, a Plotting Duchess, and a Family Secret by Catherine Bailey was the extensive amount of travel and research that went into the mysterious story of John, the 9th Duke of Rutland. The story is less about the haunting and more about the family secret.
The Rutlands or Manner family were a dysfunctional bunch. It’s most definitely not your typical family, but quite common when you consider the dark history of royalty in England. Aristocracy has privileges the common folk lack. No more was this reflected than in The Secret Rooms. The two children of Charles (previous Duke) and his wife, Diana and John, strives to gain their freedom. These two couldn’t escape the cold, manipulating actions of their mother, Violet.
The whole story reads like a first-person mystery. Catherine Bailey goes to Belvoir Castle to research the Muniment Rooms—the rooms that were sealed off by John’s children after his death in 1940—for another book. Instead, she ends up writing about the history of the Rutland family, its secrets, and why John attempted to destroy some of the documents entrusted to him from the War Office during the war. I can’t even imagine the endless hours Catherine invested in this book! A person sympathizes with John until towards the end when he caves to Violet’s manipulations, then to his own happiness.
The common person, not born to wealth and privilege, died during World War I, as well as the lesser titles of aristocracy against the Germans. Catherine Bailey honors those that died for her country. As an American, I give Catherine’s book five thumbs up for the love she has for England’s veterans, and for being persistent to reveal the nasty truth that a family of privilege attempted to hide. No one after the Duke’s death knew of the secret. The Secret Rooms is about a very complex family situation, abuse of power, and the persistent journey of a writer who found the needle in a haystack.
Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review.