Check Out – Check In – October 2014

Janet Mills

Secret Rooms – A True Story of a Haunted Castle, a Plotting Duchess and a Family Secret by Catherine Bailey. Five rooms in the castle basement housed records of the family from the time that the first Manners was appointed a duke in the 11th century. The castle, his home, was Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire. Three years earlier he had carried the Sovereign’s Scepter at the coronation. John Henry Montagu Manners became the Duke of Rutland. From the flag tower, he owned the land as far as he could see.

Now the story skips to the eighth Duke and his family. He has two sons and a daughter. The first son to inherit the title dies of a twisted stomach cord and Henry and Violet, the eighth Duke and his wife, blame the second son, John, for the death. He is sent to live with his Uncle Charles all of his life. Catherine Bailey, the author, or someone, we are never told who, has been hired to go through the records and bring the history up to date. From this time on all the correspondence has been saved. John goes off to serve in WW I and his mother tries to pull all strings to get him out. John finally comes home to stay. He marries and has several children and becomes a recluse, spending all his time in the five rooms in the basement. When the author goes through all the letters she finds that three times in John’s life are missing. This book takes time to read because of all the correspondence but it is well worth the time.

Teach a Woman to Fish – Overcoming Poverty Around the Globe by Ritu Sharma. This book is written by Sharma who is founding president of Women Thrive Worldwide. The organization was set up to help women in poorer countries to help them become self-sufficient and able to do something with their lives. It actually started with the tsunami that hit Sri Lanka. Millions of dollars were given by the U.S. and many other countries and there was a need to help, not only to rebuild but to get the women to do something with their lives besides taking care of children and weaving at the same time in their shack of a home. Her first translator was named Ramakrshnaan and he believed that helping women might be a gateway to no longer needing men. Sharma explained that it became a much better world if we offered men the same empathy that we expect from them. Women Thrive has also worked in Honduras, Nicaragua and other Central American countries; as well as in Burkina Faso in Africa above Ghana.