What I Read: I finished three books in January. I thought I would slip a fourth book in but then a wicked stomach bug obliterated our house. I haven’t been “actively ill” since Friday, but I STILL CANNOT DRINK COFFEE. I feel so unlike myself. Anyhoo, onto the books. I read Emily Eden’s The Semi-attached Couple and the Semi-detached House for the Virago Project and I read the first book in the Forsyte Saga, The Man of Property by John Galsworthy.
My last book of the month was Catherine Bailey’s The Secret Rooms: A True Story of a Haunted Castle, A Plotting Duchess, & a Family Secret. Baily originally did not set out to write this book. She wanted to write about the 1,700 young men from the estate’s 30 villages who fought in World War 1. Many of the soldiers didn’t survive. As she was sifting through the 9th Duke of Rutlands “secret rooms” — where he meticulously cataloged and archived all the family’s correspondence and documents — she discovered three HUGE gaps with very precise start and end dates. Fascinated by the intentional editing of this family’s history she set off to explore what secrets lurked in those gaps.
I really enjoyed the first two-thirds of the book. The meticulously detailed logs and letters, the layout of the castle, the daily lives of the servants…. riveting. What makes it more exciting is the books details the night the 9th Duke dies and indicates that an attempted break-in occurred shortly after his death. I was riveted and then I wasn’t. See I was expecting espionage or madness or incest or something sordid and wicked. Instead I found the three gaps to be “meh”. The first is tragic, but not scandalous. The second was cranky, but not scandalous. The last secret was scandalous, but I think only in that time period and I believe modern readers will be more sympathetic. And the break in detailed at the beginning of the book? Never resolved and completely unrelated to all the secrets. Grrrr.. So there isn’t a haunted castle, the duchess is more overbearing, conniving mother than plotting and the family secrets are meh.
That isn’t to say that this book is no good, I did really like it. The historical detail about World War 1 was fascinating and I loved hearing about all the letters. Read it for the research and the history and NOT for juicy gossip.
~~~ Stats ~~~
Started: 23 January 2015
Finished: 29 January 2015
Owned/Borrow/Library: From the library
Stars: Four out of Five
What I’m Reading: At lunch I picked up Geek Love by Katherine Dunn for the Estella Society Read-along!
What’s Up Next: In addition to Geek Love and Cranford, my February TBR consists of:
- Frost in May by Antonia White for the Virago Project and my TBR Challenge
- In Chancery by John Galsworthy for the Forsyte Saga Read
- The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters for the Literary Exploration GoodReads Group
- Black Beauty by Anna Sewell for fun
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson as an audiobook.
I’m putting the final touches on my gift for my Bookish Valentine! I’m having so much fun with it!
Let me know what’s shaking in your corner of the reading world. Happy Reading!