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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 Ratings

Overall

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    47
  • 4 Stars
    38
  • 3 Stars
    42
  • 2 Stars
    14
  • 1 Stars
    9

Performance

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
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    60
  • 4 Stars
    39
  • 3 Stars
    24
  • 2 Stars
    9
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    5

Story

  • 3.6 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    48
  • 4 Stars
    27
  • 3 Stars
    34
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    15
  • 1 Stars
    13
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

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

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

ANTI-CLIMATIC MESS OF MINUTAIE

Without spoiling the end, this is not much of a mystery. Nor is the underlying subject of any real interest. The author takes a small kernel in the lives of a family and tries to make it into a full-length book. She would have done better to have written a fictional novel based loosely on a true story. This is a hot mess of minutiae and repetition mixed with a large dose of speculation. I can't understand why anyone would put this much time in researching absolutely nothing! The narrator reads like he is really building up to a great surprise ending. Since nothing was happening hour after hour, he put me to sleep quicker than Ambien! The minor trivia learned in this book would fit in a Snapple Tea bottle cap!

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

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.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A promising tale gets bogged down in minutiae

Is there anything you would change about this book?

It could you a severe editing.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

Enough with the lists of soldiers and silver.

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

Time, I could've read it faster.

Was The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery worth the listening time?

NO.

Any additional comments?

It's good for a while, then in the final 1/3 gets bogged down in British oddity and indulgence.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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

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  • Dr
  • Brampton, ON, Canada
  • 04-28-13

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.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Disappointing!

Would you try another book from Catherine Bailey and/or Stephen Rashbrook?

No, I probably wouldn't.

What was most disappointing about Catherine Bailey’s story?

It started off well but the story fizzled out. The ending was anti-climatic and it took me three tries to finally finish the book.

Any additional comments?

I wouldn't recommend this book, there was not much of a mystery and the story dragged on unnecessarily.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Captivating but soon dries out

The narrator is clear but dry and does not articulate well between characters. The storyline remains interesting but seems to lose some of its original allure.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

great story

I really liked the story and the narrators performance added to the experience. I love books set during that time period

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Bait and switch, with a Victorian package

What disappointed you about The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery?

There really isn't much of a mystery - a lot of build-up is made then revealed to be mundane, not-particularly-unique life events. Also, it was WAY too long - there were well written and entertaining sections that might have made up for the lack of substance, had there been a competent editor working with the author.

Would you ever listen to anything by Catherine Bailey again?

Probably not - this was such a let down.

How could the performance have been better?

Performance of the reader was good, he just had very little to work with.

What character would you cut from The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery?

Sadly, character needs to be ADDED in order to make this book more enjoyable.

Any additional comments?

This book is so much NOT what it says it is. I suppose if it was properly titled "Family Letters of English Minor Aristocracy during the early 20th Century" it wouldn't have sold very well.

Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Gale
  • 11-11-12

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!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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  • Kathy
  • 08-06-13

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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Loz
  • 12-23-12

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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  • JW
  • 02-24-14

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 !!!!!!!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Christina M. Croft
  • 01-06-14

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mrs
  • 05-13-17

Fascinating

Fascinating , interesting. A brilliant insight to the Rutland family and the dreadful times of the Great War. It is extremely well narrated and captivating from beginning to end.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-02-17

Excellent! Fascinating, compelling tale

Painstaking research has led to the revelation of a fascinating story. Couldn't' put it doesn't!

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  • MAGGS
  • 09-29-17

The secret rooms - Wouldn't call this book a mystery

The secret rooms - Wouldn't call this book a mystery
Don't know what I was expecting but didn't really
enjoy this book
Narrator ok

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  • Mr
  • 08-28-17

So gripping

How the other half lived through WW1, and what was ultimately a sad life regardless of all that privilege. Violet was a very unpleasant person, how could she treat her child like that?
Very well written and performed , thoroughly appreciated the whole thing.

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  • A. Moorhouse Sacred Earth
  • 05-03-17

Amazing, so well researched

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Takes you into a world of intrigue and mystery, throwing light onto the amount of power and manipulation the upper classes held during WW1 .

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery?

You think you know what is going to happen and then there is another twist, you really couldn't make it up.

What about Stephen Rashbrook’s performance did you like?

Stephen Rashbrook's narration is perfect.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Truth is stranger than fiction