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The Second Duchess

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
Posts: 3565
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

The Second Duchess

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sat March 12th, 2011, 4:21 pm

The Second Duchess by Elizabeth Loupas

Barbara of Austria, daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor, has no illusions about love in marriage. She accepted the hand of Duke Alfonso d’Este to escape a life in the convent—even though rumors that he murdered his first Duchess swirl through every court of Europe. Familiar with such gossip, Barbara is willing to give her new husband the benefit of the doubt. But he proves to be arrogant and high-handed from the first; just the sort of man who might stop at nothing to dispense with a promiscuous, unwanted young wife not noble enough for his taste.

Marriage proves to be much different than Barbara expected, as she finds herself both attracted and repelled by her handsome, dangerous husband. Against Alfonso’s express command, Barbara begins to snoop into the circumstances surrounding Lucrezia’s death, and shortly discovers that somebody—or several somebodies—are arranging her own.

The malevolent ghost of Lucrezia hovers nearby, watching the goings-on and commenting acidly, feeding the reader little snips of information on the various players: the Duke himself; his venial aunt, Abbess of the convent where Lucrezia was either murdered, or died of ‘an imbalance of humours’ or took her own life; the duke’s woman-hating best friend; his brother, the Cardinal; his spiteful sister, displaced as first lady of Ferarra; Lucrezia’s crafty father, Duke Cosimo I of Florence, through his double-dealing ambassador—there seem to be no shortage of people who had reason to want the first Duchess dead. Reasons that might also include killing the next one.

Elizabeth has done a wonderful job evoking the ambiance of a renaissance court. There are no anachronistic ‘moderns in fancy-dress’ people in these pages: deeply religious and/or superstitious, the characters illustrate the wide variety of the sixteenth century, while still demonstrating the human urges common to all ages. As circumstances unfold, they change believably in response, and she carries the reader’s sympathies along with them. I especially enjoyed what Elizabeth did with the pathetic, fading ghost of Lucrezia.

I’m even going to forgive her for keeping me, an early riser, up until 2 AM!
Last edited by MLE (Emily Cotton) on Sat March 12th, 2011, 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Susan » Sat March 12th, 2011, 7:53 pm

I just put this one on my list of books I want to read. Problem is that I will be tied up with the Outlander books for a while.
~Unofficial Royalty~
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Post by Elizabeth » Sun March 13th, 2011, 11:48 am

Thanks for the review, MLE! Glad you enjoyed it! (And sorry about 2 am :) )
THE RED LILY CROWN: A Novel of Medici Florence.


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Post by EC2 » Sun March 13th, 2011, 12:30 pm

Excellent review and well done Elizabeth. One to read definitely!
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal


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Post by Misfit » Sun March 13th, 2011, 12:55 pm

I won a copy at Librarything, but from the looks of things I'll get the library copy before I get that one ;)
At home with a good book and the cat...
...is the only place I want to be

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Alisha Marie Klapheke
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Post by Alisha Marie Klapheke » Sun March 4th, 2012, 3:59 am

I am reading this now and loving it!!!

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