David Gelber

Belvoir Noir

The Secret Rooms: A True Gothic Mystery

By

Viking 466pp £20 order from our bookshop

A sepulchral castle, a despotic lord, a guiltless maiden and a spectral, troubled antihero – these were the ingredients of the gothic novel at the high midnight of its popularity. Catherine Bailey’s The Secret Rooms contains all of these elements. The castle is the Manners family stronghold of Belvoir, a vast, crenellated edifice mounted imperiously on a ridge overlooking the Leicestershire countryside. The lord is Henry Manners, eighth Duke of Rutland, a firm-jawed man of outward rectitude and cosmetic charm, yet at heart a philistine with a ‘ferocious temper’, who mortally hated ‘abroad’ and ‘soap in his bath’. The maiden is his youngest daughter, Diana, a celebrated society beauty with ‘love-in-the-mist eyes’ and hair as delicate as ‘ancient Chinese silk’, whom one admirer exalted as an ‘orchid among cowslips, a black tulip in a garden of cucumbers, nightshade in the nursery’.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'It is one of those nice linguistic ironies that English should have attempted to make sex respectable by clothing… ,
    • 'He was to my mind the father of the idea that journalism – yes, even journalism – can have a moral dimension to it… ,
    • RT : Feeling old, as exhumes a piece I wrote 37 years ago. But a joy to see Kathy O’S there too. Here’s why:… ,
    • 'Enough of his character remains just out of reach for Barnes to relish the challenge of imagining him.' Patrick M… ,
    • RT : I did a thing about the new Penguin Book Of Oulipo for this month’s Literary Review: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Moore’s work has been so influential that the former ministers who provided him with much of his information now r… ,
    • 'Although he travels through time and space to find the best produce, his choices, delightfully, are not obvious.'… ,