Review: The Secret Rooms by Catherine Bailey

Title: The Secret Rooms: A True Story of  A Haunted Castle, A Plotting Duchess, and A Family Secret
Author: Catherine Bailey
Publisher: Penguin
Published: December 31, 2013
Paperback, 465 pages
ISBN: 978-0-14-312473-3
Genre: Nonfiction
Source: Publisher

Goodreads Summary:
After the Ninth Duke of Rutland, one of the wealthiest men in Britain, died alone in a cramped room in the servants’ quarters of Belvoir Castle on April 21, 1940, his son and heir ordered the room, which contained the Rutland family archives, sealed. Sixty years later, Catherine Bailey became the first historian given access. What she discovered was a mystery: The Duke had painstakingly erased three periods of his life from all family records—but why? As Bailey uncovers the answers, she also provides an intimate portrait of the very top of British society in the turbulent days leading up to World War I.

My thoughts:
First let me address the title. While this is a story of secret rooms, a plotting duchess, and a family secret, there is but little mention of the haunted castle.  People have claimed supernatural occurrences, but it is only mentioned briefly. So if you're looking for a true ghostly tale, this book might not be for you. However it is one of the most fascinating books I've read.

Catherine Bailey is a true sleuth! While she was at Belvoir Castle researching a book, she discovered an consistant inconsistancy in the family letters archive and from that it took her on a search to discover a shocking secret about the Rutland family. The Rutland family were excellent at keeping their correspondences and letters. I can imagine all the interesting details that weren't put into this book. Bailey was put to task to discover the secret of the Ninth Duke of Rutland. He died cloistered in a small room that he had spend the last half of his life in. The rooms were forbidden to all except a few. After he died, his son has the rooms sealed up with all of their mysteries. What had the Duke been up to? What was he trying to keep secret?

You would think with the amount of letters and file cabinets that were left, Bailey would have no problem finding out what was what. But she did. She had to go on a treasure hunt and try to find even the smallest clue to help her solve this mystery. And she did.

This book is told through letters, conversations, pictures and general information that Bailey has uncovered. She sets the material out for us readers and it reads like a good mystery novel. I was fascinated with every detail. Even after the book ended I still wanted to know more about the lives of the people in this novel. 

Overall it's a good read. I think people fascinated with history, especially around WWI, will like this book. This might also appeal to fans of Downton Abbey.

My rating:

Other books by Catherine Bailey:


  1. The lack of ghosti-ness seems a bit of letdown.....but i love books with mysteries and history. It's definitely on my wish-list.

  2. OMG!! I need to read this!! i'll definitely read it only during the daytime!! LOL!!
    thank you for the giveaway!!

  3. Interesting info about the title


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