I found The Secret Rooms on Amazon when I was looking up books about the late Victorian/Edwardian era. From there, I looked it up on the library network. I was pleased to discover that there was a copy at my town library; I didn’t even have to make a request and wait for it to be sent!
The Secret Rooms was written by Catherine Bailey, and is subtitled “A True Story Of A Haunted Castle, A Plotting Duchess, & A Family Secret”. Belvoir Castle is the centerpiece of what was once one of the largest estates in England. Catherine Bailey finds herself visiting Belvoir as part of her research for a book about the Great War. While combing through the correspondence, she finds that there are three gaps. The 9th Duke had devoted his life to meticulous record keeping. In fact, the 9th Duke passed away in one of the rooms designated as the archives, and after his death, the rooms were closed for almost seventy years. The only conclusion is that the gaps are intentional, but what could the 9th Duke have been trying to hide?
I thoroughly enjoyed The Secret Rooms. I enjoy reading fictional books set in grand country houses, and I found the true story of the Manners family to be just as fascinating. I won’t reveal what Bailey discovered, but I will say that it brought up some interesting paradigms regarding the nature of duty. Bailey presents her findings in an engaging manner. I enjoyed the numerous excerpts from family correspondence, especially the letters written by children.
I would absolutely recommend The Secret Rooms. If you love Victorian and Edwardian history, or even if you simply enjoy watching Downton Abbey, chances are that you will enjoy this book.