Book Review: THE SECRET ROOMS by Catherine Bailey

Publisher: Penguin Books

Published: December 31, 2013

Format: Paperback (512 pages)

ISBN: 9780143124733  

Origin: Publisher 

***Though the publisher provides the free book, I offer the opinion.***

My Look:

History is everything but boring within Belvoir Castle  . . .

Why was the physician of King George VI expected?  Most astonishing of all, why was this physician and others awaiting the patient to be ready for them?

These questions show only the beginning of the Duke of Rutland mystery, while England was entering the fray of World War I.  Other issues plagued the hierarchy landing many in a state of turmoil long before the war.  In fact, to some, the war was a welcome act, to others it marked the end of a lifestyle, and to some, it was a fear like no other. 

To understand this time and culture one needs to understand the history.  Further, one needs to know that history has the ability to change, albeit not sometimes expectedly.  Moreover, one needs to realize the family dynamic.  The family position was, well, everything and appearances mattered daily. However, it was the first-born male heir who mattered most, but this young heir landed at death’s door. 

Was it an accident?  Or an illness?  Or was it something more? 

Know up front that a castle was not a domicile, but it was the domain of many families, each in their own place.  A major household such as this was not a mere building, but it was sustenance to whole villages.  Villagers worked inside and outside the estate and their work earned the family wages — “a feudal system”. However, many things had changed from a long-lasting agriculture depression, where many Dukes’ positions financially suffered. Land was devalued. It was at this time, taxes became levied on the ducal aristocrats and a stripping of their political powers were meant to castrate the bunch.  

The Duke of Rutland’s problem actually was far more reaching than this and scaled many years before.  To keep from losing land, the Duke was using legal maneuvering to disinherit his second and only living son, while his mother was using whatever sway she could to keep her family growing.   From war strategies to safe keeping of documents, this family weaves itself through actual history, in both the good and bad ways, depending on who knows about it and who was on the receiving end of the deception. 

However, what exactly was important enough to hide that would cause this Duke to die while keeping it hidden?  

My Take:

In THE SECRET ROOMS, historian and author Catherine Bailey provides a narrative that changes the course of her writing and research, when mystification is inbred with fact and becomes a point of view meant to not be seen.  Her resulting true mystery raptures the reader from page one and doesn’t falter!  

Catherine Bailey brings to life yesteryear that Downton Abbey fans will relish, and her riddle manages to capture mystery lovers and history buffs too. 

The lives in this story will have you enthralled, as you race to find answers that lay just beyond indecorum and falsehoods. Strong women, weak men, appear inside the walls of Belvoir Castle, but roles change as their time progresses. If you are like me, you’ll believe that just maybe someone still living is suspicious that things weren’t right in the past.

Catherine Bailey’s book, THE SECRET ROOMS, is a book I recommend!


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