The Secret Rooms: A castle filled with intrigue, a plotting duchess and a mysterious death
A castle filled with intrigue, a plotting duchess and a mysterious death in Catherine Bailey's The Secret Rooms.
At 6 am on 21 April 1940 John the 9th Duke of Rutland, and one of Britain's wealthiest men, ended his days, virtually alone, lying on a makeshift bed in a dank cramped suite of rooms in the servants' quarters of his own home, Belvoir Castle, in Leicestershire.
For weeks, as his health deteriorated, his family, his servants - even the King's doctor - pleaded with him to come out, but he refused.
After his death, his son and heir, Charles, the 10th Duke of Rutland, ordered that the rooms be locked up and they remained untouched for sixty years.
What lay behind this extraordinary set of circumstances?
For the first time, in The Secret Rooms, Catherine Bailey unravels a complex and compelling tale of love, honour and betrayal, played out in the grand salons of Britain's stately homes at the turn of the twentieth century, and on the battlefields of the Western Front. At its core is a secret so dark that it consumed the life of the man who fought to his death to keep it hidden. This extraordinary mystery from the author of Black Diamonds, perfect for lovers of Downton Abbey, Brideshead Revisited and The Suspicions of Mr Whicher.
Praise for The Secret Rooms:
'Reads like the best kind of mystery story. It is a tale of mistresses and heirlooms, cowardice and connivance, and a deeply dysfunctional family...gripping' Sunday Times
'Astonishing...jaw-dropping...It would spoil the book if I revealed the whole works, suffice it to say...what a family' Sunday Telegraph
'An extraordinary detective operation' John Julius Norwich
Catherine Bailey is the author of Black Diamonds. She read history at Oxford University and is a successful, award-winning television producer and director, making a range of critically acclaimed documentary films inspired by her interest in twentieth century history. She lives in West London.
Gripping. Reads like the best kind of mystery story. It is a tale of mistresses and heirlooms, cowardice and connivance (Sunday Times)'Astonishing, jaw-dropping, superb. Horrifying, extraordinary (Sunday Telegraph)Extraordinary, edge-of-the-seat, enthralling. All the ingredients of a lurid horror. The plot is thick with destroyed documents, decadent aristocracy, betrayed honour and curses (Metro)Compelling. A remarkable piece of research which throws a bright shaft of light on powerful people, hypocrisy and the first world war (Jeremy Paxman Guardian, Books of the Year)Wonderful . . . has everything: family intrigue and hatred, love and war, witches' curses, eccentricity, snobbery and a series of shocking secrets. No reader can finish it unmoved (Sunday Express)Teems with hypocrisy, deceit, parental manipulation and bullying. Bailey artfully shows how guilt, grief, pride and shame levied a heavy toll (Literary Review)An extraordinary detective operation (John Julius Norwich)Excellent, beautifully crafted, fascinating (Red)Excellent. A fine, suspenseful, atmospheric tale, a less melodramatic and more nuanced Downton Abbey (Daily Express)Bailey's fascinating book takes us to the heart of a family tragedy ... this is a horrifying story of love, despair, intrigue, snobbery and upper class eccentricity which reads like fiction but is amazingly - and shockingly - real (Lancashire Evening Post)The mysterious death of a Duke and a castle full of treacherous goings-on make The Secret Rooms a gripping read for fans of Downton Abbey. As thrilling as any fiction, Catherine Bailey uncovers the darkest depths of a family with plenty of skeletons in its closet (Good Housekeeping)
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