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The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery | [Catherine Bailey]

The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery

In April 1940, the ninth Duke of Rutland died in mysterious circumstances in one of the rooms of his family estate, Belvoir Castle. The mystery surrounding these rooms holds the key to a tragic story that is played out on the brutal battlefields of the Western Front and in the exclusive salons of Mayfair and Belgravia in the dying years of la belle époque. Uncovered is a dark and disturbing period in the history of the Rutland family, and one which they were determined to keep hidden for over 60 years. Sixty years on, The Secret Rooms is the true story of family secrets and one man’s determination to keep the past hidden at any cost.
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Publisher's Summary

In April 1940, the ninth Duke of Rutland died in mysterious circumstances in one of the rooms of his family estate, Belvoir Castle. The mystery surrounding these rooms holds the key to a tragic story that is played out on the brutal battlefields of the Western Front and in the exclusive salons of Mayfair and Belgravia in the dying years of la belle époque. Uncovered is a dark and disturbing period in the history of the Rutland family, and one which they were determined to keep hidden for over 60 years. Sixty years on, The Secret Rooms is the true story of family secrets and one man’s determination to keep the past hidden at any cost.

©2012 Catherine Bailey (P)2012 Audible Ltd

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (79 )
5 star
 (24)
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3 star
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2 star
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Overall
3.6 (71 )
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Story
4.0 (72 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    EJJ Russellville, AR 06-13-13
    EJJ Russellville, AR 06-13-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    29
    ratings
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    "Well Worth A Listen"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    A riveting book. I am not entirely certain that I agree with all of the author's conclusions, but she has done a fabulous job of detective work (a major part of the story), and this is particularly fascinating for anyone who is familiar with the era or the characters.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    No one comes out looking very admirable.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The boxes of old letters the duke did not manage to destroy.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    Excellent and absorbing.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robyn Modbury, Australia 03-07-13
    Robyn Modbury, Australia 03-07-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "gripping!"

    This is on my list of best-ever reads. The author's tracking down of documents and other clues to solve the mystery of the title is beautifully paced. As she follows the trail, the two principal settings, life of the privileged upper classes and the trenches of the Western Front, are excellently depicted. She writes well and maintains the suspense throughout. Stephen Rashbrook's narration is perfect - his voice, his accent, foreign pronunciations, pace, evocation of mood - wonderful! This book and the reader are highly recommended.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Madeleine London, United Kingdom 07-31-14
    Madeleine London, United Kingdom 07-31-14 Member Since 2008

    Audiobook addict.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "A Mystery Unravelled in a Mediocre Way"

    First, I have to say that the narration was superb on this audiobook and it made what was a nice little mystery with a poorly structured narrative bearable. Researchers are, understandably, in love with their own process and so they should be. But it's a mistake to believe this automatically translates into a compelling story structure.

    There were a number of ways to go about using what is a very interesting set of factual events to construct a novel: you can simply dramatize the facts and weave them into a historical novel (with either the research subject as the narrator or a secondary character as narrator); you can construct the whole piece as a collection of found documents, the way Dracula is constructed, in epistolary form; or you can take the contemporary discovery approach by having the researcher there in the story as a quasi-detective (as was done here). The mistake that researchers who try to turn their research into prose often make is to present themselves as an inert figure. No entity in a story is ever inert and attempting to present them that way is always a mistake in anything but academic writing which is why I agree with an earlier reviewer that this reads slightly like someone's PhD thesis.

    Another problem with the story is repetition. This could have used an editor with a firmer hand. Repeating research findings is perfectly acceptable in academic writing, but it's just irritating in what needs to have a more fluid approach. Trust your reader to remember what you wrote three chapters ago. They usually do.

    Finally, this this was irritating, the author telegraphs important discovery events by hyping what she's found before she tells you what it is. This really spoils the a-ha moment for a prose-reader. If anything, the opposite approach is more effective. To downplay the advent before a really surprising discovery is revealed.

    Sounds like a really unsatisfactory audiobook, but it wasn't. Admittedly, this isn't a book of startling and shocking revelations. It's a gentle, poignant and almost literary unfolding of a man's life. But the core of it is an intriguing story. And, as I said at the beginning, the narration is outstanding, and mitigates a lot of the structural flaws.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr Brampton, ON, Canada 04-28-13
    Dr Brampton, ON, Canada 04-28-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Too long and detailed to be entertaining."

    This is well researched book ,more like a PhD thesis than a story.It refects well the era of the First World War and the power of the nobility.
    The detail like the names and size of each picture in inches listed in sales catalogue sold to raise money for the estate is truly boring and annoying.,the same can be said of other lists.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charlotte HONOLULU, HI, United States 08-22-14
    Charlotte HONOLULU, HI, United States 08-22-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    73
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    Story
    "So deadly flat a reading, I fell asleep."
    What disappointed you about The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery?

    I love Gothic Mysteries, I could not tell you what this one is about as the reading of it is so bad I simply could not stay with the story. I tried Three times to listen to this and never made past a few chapters, of which I slept through most.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    No idea.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Flat, toneless, no inflection, no life.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I wish I knew, the reader was so bad I couldn't stay with it.


    Any additional comments?

    I would love to hear this book with a different reader.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Fort Worth, TX, United States 06-10-14
    Jennifer Fort Worth, TX, United States 06-10-14 Member Since 2012

    I'm a writer and I love books of all types

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    18
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    Story
    "Historically mysterious with lots of intrigue"

    History buffs and mystery buffs this is a must read Loved the rich details and the story line
    great plot and detailing of characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon Fairmont, WV, United States 04-27-13
    Sharon Fairmont, WV, United States 04-27-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very interesting"
    Where does The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Great story, occasionally choppy but overall very interesting story that I knew nothing about prior to reading this book.


    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Walnut Creek, CA, United States 12-02-12
    Jennifer Walnut Creek, CA, United States 12-02-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Northanger Abbey comes to live"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    The performance was in the spirit of the book but the book was so slight that the mysterious reading was just silly.


    What was most disappointing about Catherine Bailey’s story?

    There was nothing at its core. There was no story and no secret. It was like Northanger Abbey without the wit. The author made up a mystery about a frankly very unpleasant and unappealing aristocrat. There was nothing interesting about him except his title.


    What does Stephen Rashbrook bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I learned how the English pronounce Belvoir, Drogheda and Buccleuch.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery?

    I wouldn't have written the book! It wasn't substantive in any way.


    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Moonglotexas South Africa 09-12-13
    Moonglotexas South Africa 09-12-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Gently paced, historical journey"
    If you could sum up The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery in three words, what would they be?

    Not Gothic Mystry


    What other book might you compare The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery to and why?

    The Suspicions of Mr Whitcher, The Secrets of a Victorian Lady


    What does Stephen Rashbrook bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    As a paper novel, I probably would have been distracted, but the phrasing and his characters brought the story to life


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I felt enlightened and ever grateful to be living in this century and not last


    Any additional comments?

    Despite not being a "fast-pasted, haunted mystery", as a historical journey , it unfolds the truth in an intriguing and enjoyable manner. I felt I was being told a story by a fire for my amusement, as such I tried to listen to it in as near as one go as my schedule allowed.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roger Waco, TX, United States 04-14-13
    Roger Waco, TX, United States 04-14-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    4
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    "Very Disappointing"
    What disappointed you about The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery?

    Frankly, it was boring. There was no great secret involved and the one secret that interested me was never explained. And there was nothing gothic about it. It's just the story of a dysfunctional aristocratic family told mostly through letters.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Something truly gothic, not like this.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    The narrator was fine.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    None--unless the listener is an avid fan of World War I history.


    Any additional comments?

    I seriously wanted my money back on this one. It was a waste of money and time. I kept waiting for something to happen and it didn't. There was nothing very mysterious about the story and certainly nothing gothic about it.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 12 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Gale
    Fordingbridge, United Kingdom
    11/11/12
    Overall
    "Great read. Great narration."

    I have to admit to a strong partiality to Catherine Bailey's writing (I loved Black Diamonds) and this book didn't disappoint. Listening to this over the weekend of the Remembrance Sunday gave it added poignancy. The narrator was excellent! Great read!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Loz
    JERSEY, United Kingdom
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "Fascinating family mystery/history"

    I really enjoyed this book - it has intrigue, a love story, tragedy and history. Beautifully narrated at a good pace.

    The only reason I haven't given it 5 is because at times it could be long-winded and there was repetition, which confused me!

    I think I preferred Black Diamonds.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Kathy
    Cornwall
    8/6/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "It might be true but it isn't Gothic"
    If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

    A historian might enjoy the book but there was no suspense and no real mystery. There wasn't really a hidden room or anything that was worth hiding.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Catherine Bailey again?

    No


    What about Stephen Rashbrook’s performance did you like?

    Fine, he has a good voice and managed to read it without falling asleep.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointed.


    Any additional comments?

    The very worst part of the book was (I assume) half an hour reading the names if every single man who died in WW1 who had been born in, lived in or even visited Leicester. I say assume because I managed 2 minutes then fast forwarded 28 minutes and it was still going on!!!! Well done to the reader. He must have been at his wits end by then.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Janice
    Ashby-de-la-Zouch, United Kingdom
    2/24/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Strange but true !!!!"
    Would you listen to The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery again? Why?

    Yes I would listen to this book again because I found it a more compelling listen then many fiction novels. In fact at times I had to remind myself that it was not a novel.


    What did you like best about this story?

    That is was true, that the hero/villain of the plot had actually existed, and also the way in which the writer had set out to research one subject but uncovered the initial information which led to this book being written. I also found the methodology of the research interesting. Also, the book is not written like many non-fiction or biographical books. The prose is lively and perfectly read.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    No particular scene but overall the relationships between the different individuals was quite fascinating.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, not particularly, but neither was it a book that I did not want to finish.


    Any additional comments?

    I shall never visit Belvoir again without remembering this book and the secret rooms !!!!!!!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Chantal
    Netherlands
    1/22/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "It does get better if you persevere"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The first half of the book is intended to sound like a mystery thriller, the intrepid search for the truth behind certain gaps in the record left behind by John, the 9th Duke of Rutland. Catherine Bailey does not succeed in making it sound anything more than an expose of how tedious it can be to research a novel. Nevertheless, the second half of the novel is given more to the subject of the book than her own investigations and here the book becomes interesting. If the book had been written as a biography of this Duke instead of trying to make the writer sound like a rather boring character in a spy novel I think the pace of the book would have been much faster and the general impression less irritating.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    The descriptions of life at the front with the gruesome casualty records make for mind-boggling reading even though the scale of killing in the Second World War is obviously even more horrific.


    Could you see The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

    If the writers left out the part played by Catherine Bailey and stuck to the history of the family I think this would make for a reasonable costume drama.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Christina M. Croft
    England
    1/6/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Gripping"
    What did you like most about The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery?

    The story was gripping and the complex family relationships absorbing.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The 'cliffhangers' and the atmospheric detail made me eager to hear more.


    What about Stephen Rashbrook’s performance did you like?

    The performance was excellent.


    Any additional comments?

    Although there was some repetition in the narrative, I found it helpful in reminding me important details which I might otherwise have forgotten.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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