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The Second Duchess

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  2,508 Ratings  ·  312 Reviews
A rich, compelling historical novel—and a mystery of royal intrigue.

In a city-state known for magnificence, where love affairs and conspiracies play out amidst brilliant painters, poets and musicians, the powerful and ambitious Alfonso d'Este, duke of Ferrara, takes a new bride. Half of Europe is certain he murdered his first wife, Lucrezia, the luminous child of the Me
Paperback, 369 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by New American Library (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Mar 20, 2011 Misfit rated it really liked it
Barbara of Austria is the second duchess of Alfonso II d'Este, Duke of Ferrara - his first duchess, Lucrezia de' Medici having died mysteriously several years before. Barbara may not be the great beauty that wife #1 was, but she's got brains and breeding and goes into the marriage with her eyes wide open and accepts her lot in life. Well sort of, because she's soon hearing unsettling rumors that Lucrezia may have met an untimely end and Barbara decides to investigate for herself, which is no eas ...more
Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker  Queen of the Undead
Me at the end of this book- Absolutely loved it. Fantastic. Candidate for favorite book of 2011.

Me at the beginning of this book- I don’t like Barbara. I don’t get what is going on.

Obviously, I went through quite a transformation from the beginning of this book to the end. Why am I telling you this? Because if you do decide to pick it up, DO NOT SET IT BACK DOWN! Seriously, I’m so happy I continued to read this book.

Ok, enough of my ranting.

The characters-

Barbara- She is the daughter of an Emper
Nov 16, 2011 Parvathy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: historical literature
Recommended to Parvathy by: good reads
Historical fiction seems to be my cup of tea now a days. I am constantly on the hunt for books such as this one. Now where should I start with this review.

Lets see now, What did I expect when I started this book??

A murder mystery with some history lessons

Guess What??

That is exactly what this book is. Nothing more nothing less

The story begins with the wedding of Barbara of Austria to the Duke of Ferrara. Far less beautiful and older than the first duchess of Ferrara Lucrezia De Medici, Barbara
Dawn (& Ron)
Apr 02, 2012 Dawn (& Ron) rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Renaissance Italy fans
Recommended to Dawn (& Ron) by: Misfit, Jemidar and more
The Second Duchess came highly and very strongly recommended by several friends. I normally try to approach each book with an open mind and open expectations, I'm so glad I stuck with my normal routine of not looking at reviews beforehand. I can't imagine how tough that might have made things. Luckily, I got those distractions squared away fairly quickly and was able to concentrate on the book.

I couldn't help but admire Barbara of Austria, second Duchess of Ferrara, a woman who stood up for her
Aug 05, 2016 Kristijan rated it did not like it
Za svoju startnu poziciju Elizabet Lupas uzima drugi brak Alfonsa II - on se ženi Barbarom od Austrije nakon sumnjive smrti njegove prve supruge Lukrecije Mediči.
Dakle, imamo istorijsku podlogu i priču koja bi mogla da se iskoristi odlično - kako bi se dobio istoriografski roman... Međutim, dobili smo poprilično light roman, u kome vojvotkinja Barbara izigrava Šerloka Holmsa i pokušava da razotkrije ubistvo svoje prethodnice, koja se (by the way) pojavljuje u vidu duha koji saopštava čitaocima s
Kate Quinn
Apr 13, 2011 Kate Quinn rated it it was amazing
"She had a heart too soon made glad." Browning's immortal line from his poem "The Last Duchess," said by Renaissance Duke Alfonso of Este about his first wife Lucrezia whom he has murdered. Elizabeth Loupas takes the poem and the history and spins a fabulous tale about Alfonso's second wife Barbara of Austria, a plain but sharp-witted girl who follows in the murdered Lucrezia's footsteps. We know right away that Lucrezia was murdered, since her ghost hangs around commenting on the fact unseen by ...more
Tara Chevrestt
This is a tough review for me to write.. I'm still reeling from the ending.

Except for the Duke, I loved this book. It had just the right amount of mystery, suspense, lustiness, descriptive details, and historical tidbits to keep me thoroughly entertained. The Duchess could have used just a bit more fiestiness, but she surprised me in the end. Considering the precarious situation she was in, I think she handled things very well. She even spoke up to the Duke at one point and I literally cheered
Rio (Lynne)
May 08, 2011 Rio (Lynne) rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars: Wow! First of all, we historical fiction fans have a new author to follow! Elizabeth Loupas has written a bright, page turning, full of life, mystery with lots of detailed history! Not many authors can hold my attention on every page the way she did. Alfonso d' Este takes his second wife, Barbara of Austria. Barbara comes to Ferrara surrounded by gossip of Alfonso killing his first wife Lucrezia de Medici. All we know is that Lucrezia did die suspiciously, but we are not sure how. The ...more
The Just-About-Average Ms M
Jun 01, 2014 The Just-About-Average Ms M rated it really liked it
Shelves: a-real-keeper
I rarely venture into the world of the various Italian city-states during the Renaissance. It's not my favorite era, though I know quite a bit of the history and culture. Two earlier attempts to read historical fiction set in this period, one of which was also a mystery, were utter disasters. So it was a leap of faith for me to download The Second Duchess. Mio dio! The author had me midway through the first paragraph.

The protagonist, the Archduchess Barbara of Austria, is by her own admission, l
Nov 04, 2011 Dija rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of unsolved historical mysteries
The Second Duchess is entirely different from what I usually read; ergo, I had no idea what to expect from this book. Which is why it was surprising when it turned out to be an extremely interesting and thoroughly delightful read.

Barbara is an archduchess from Austria, betrothed to the duke of Ferrara. Said duke's first wife dies under very suspicious circumstances and everyone believes the duke to be the murderer. Despite her misgivings, Barbara is determined to be the ultimate wife and duches
May 14, 2011 Jemidar rated it really liked it

Really a 4.5 star read!

Set in Renaissance Italy, this book has it all--mystery, intrigue and a rich evocative atmosphere, as well as wonderful historical detail. It is well researched and well written with characters who are refreshingly different from what you so often find in currently popular historical fiction. Very enjoyable and highly recommended.

The publishers have also done a great job, gracing it with a beautiful cover, and I particularly like that a copy of the Robert Browning poem fro
Rating: 3.5 stars

An intriguing mystery, and an imaginative and entertaining read...slightly spoilt by the madcap reveal. The author has a thoughtful style, and I expected the reveal to be handled in a similar vein, so was surprised and disappointed when she took the OTT route of a more sensationalist writer instead. An otherwise easy and enjoyable read though.

I am…conflicted over this book. I had some issues with it, and they were very much “me” issues, so I had a hard time rating it. But then I figured I should just do what I always do and grade it based on my enjoyment. I did enjoy it, but I’m going to detail the “me” issues so you can see if they’ll bother you too.

When I picked this book up I didn’t know anything about it other than what I read on the back blurb. Part of the fun for me in reading historical fiction is becoming intrigued by facts i
Mar 06, 2011 Monica rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book on firstreads. I like that it wasn't focused on being a romance. It wasn't corny like so many historical pieces can be, either. It focused on the historical occurrences of the character's lives while stringing a mystery along through the pages. It was an enjoyable, very easy read.
Jan 06, 2013 Emma rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites

I am... indescribably impressed by this novel! And, I will confess, genuinely surprised. When I picked it up I thought it would be a fairly run-of-the-mill historical, elevated a little by the fact that it's based around my FAVOURITE poem ever, Browning's "My Last Duchess", but nothing to write home about. But it's actually a brilliantly subtle, wonderfully characterised page-turner of a mystery with a really original and brave interpretation of the historical and literary record, and I can't re

Oct 09, 2012 HÜLYA rated it really liked it
Düşesin Zaferi Elzabeth Loupas

İlk defa okuduğum bir yazardı.Düşesin Zaferi Goodreads puanı 5/3,91 Benim puanım 5/4 Başlarda biraz sıkıldım itiraf edeyim..Ama sayfalar ilerleyip ben hikayeye ısınınca benim nazarımda kitap açıldı..
Roman daha çok Tarihsel Kurgu ve polisiye üzerine kurgulanmıştı..Gerçekçi bir uslupla yazılmıştı..Rönesans İtalya'sında geçiyordu..Geçtiği dönemi de pek sevmesem de hikaye içine çekiverdi beni...Buda çevirinin de büyük bir payı vardı..Çeviri de problem hissetmedim..^

Amy Bruno
Inspired by the Robert Browning poem titled The Last Duchess, author Elizabeth Loupas gives her own rendition of the mystery behind the death of Lucrezia d’Medici, rumored to have been murdered by her husband, the Duke of Ferrera in The Second Duchess.

For Barbara of Austria marriage to the duke and at last having a court of her own was a dream come true. However, the dream fades as she is immediately bombarded upon her arrival with the whisperings and rumors of court gossip about the mysterious
Dec 10, 2013 Victoria rated it it was amazing
This has now been added to my favourite books! What a read! If you haven't read it already, then do so. You won't be disappointed, I promise.
Anything Renaissance Italy interests me anyway but with the added detail of a little know Hapsburg bride, my fascination was on overload. I find the whole Hapsburg dynasty to be so interesting, the way they inter-married and at one point were ruling half of Europe.
Anyway, back to the book... Loupas mixes the story of Alfonso D'Este, his marriage to his se
Jun 19, 2014 Helen rated it it was amazing
The Second Duchess is a fascinating historical novel set in Renaissance Italy and narrated by Barbara of Austria, the second wife of Alfonso d'Este, the Duke of Ferrara. The recent tragic death of the Duke's first Duchess, Lucrezia de' Medici, has never been satisfactorily explained and many people think she may have been murdered by the Duke himself. Listening to these rumours, Barbara doesn't know what to believe. Determined to discover the truth she decides to investigate, but it seems that w ...more
Jenny Q
Jan 18, 2012 Jenny Q rated it really liked it
Shelves: tour-of-italy
When Barbara leaves Austria and the court of her brother, the Holy Roman Emperor, she's already heard the rumors that her betrothed murdered his first wife, but she's determined to marry the Duke of Ferrara anyway. At twenty-six, she's old for a first-time bride, and she's grateful to Alfonso d'Este for taking her out from under her brother's rule and giving her a court of her own to rule over. She's determined to be the best duchess she can be, and to forget all about the beautiful, young first ...more
Sep 06, 2011 Kimberly rated it it was amazing
The Second Duchess is one of the best historical fiction novels that I’ve read in awhile! I love pretty much any type of historical fiction, but the author, Elizabeth Loupas, added a twist to this historical fiction novel by adding the element of mystery.

Apparently the Duke of Ferrara has long been suspected of killing his first bride, the flighty Lucrezia de Medici. When his second wife, Barbara of Austria, moves to Ferrara it is immediately put into her head that the first duchess was murdered
Oct 04, 2011 Melanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I reviewed this book for Romance Reader At Heart website.

THE SECOND DUCHESS is set in the beautiful northern Italian province of Ferrara, and revolves around Barbara of Austria who marries Alphonso, the Duke of Ferrara. The Duke's first marriage to Lucrezia de' Medici ended with an untimely death, and rumors abound that he might have been responsible for it.

Barbara, at twenty-six and not known for her beauty but for her independence and intelligence, is determined to find out what happened to
Mar 06, 2011 Debbie rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
"The Second Duchess" is a historical novel set in December of 1565 in Ferrara, Italy. The story revolved around an intriguing "true life" mystery about how the first duchess died, and the author wrote about one possibility. The writing was rich with historical details, from the politics to details about Barbara's wedding dress, wedding supper, and even the steps of the dances. While not uninteresting, this level of detail in the first half of the book slowed the pacing enough that the story had ...more
Blodeuedd Finland
May 10, 2011 Blodeuedd Finland rated it really liked it
Barbara of Austria is brought to the city-state of Ferrara to marry Alfonso d’Este, the duke who is whispered to have murdered his first wife Lucrezia de Medici. No one has accused him but everyone still knows it had to be him. Barbara is not as beautiful or young as his first Duchess was, but she is clever and she knows that if she is to live here she must know the truth. Little by little she uncovers truths about Lucrezia’s many lovers, and someone is not happy that she is digging around and w ...more
Jul 29, 2012 Linda rated it liked it
I like the fact that this is a historical novel with elements of non-fiction. The characters existed in the 16th century, and according to the writer, she has tried to stay true to their personalities. It's interesting to follow the married, but not at first lovingly attached, couple, Barbara and Alfonso. Barbara is of course a product of her time, but at the same time she stands her ground surprisingly well, and is rather witty and headstrong. Alfonso II d'Este, duke of Ferrara, is used to peop ...more
It's reading books like this that make me glad I joined Goodreads. As far as I am aware the book has no UK publisher, I have never seen it in a UK bookshop, and to be perfectly honest I am not a huge fan of the sixteenth century so may have skipped it anyway. However I was persuaded by the positive reviews from my Goodreads friends and others on the site. Ultimately, The Second Duchess has been one of my favourite "new" reads this year.

So what is it about? Barbara of Austria, sister of the Emper
Feb 05, 2012 lia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
A wonderful read! i couldn't put it down!

It's a historical fiction of the real Alfonso d'Este, his second duchess Barbara of Austria and his first wife Lucrezia de Medici.

Barbara married Alfonso d'este when she was 26. She is the daughter of emperor and sister of emperor, a coup for Alfonso d'este. Her social standing and bloodline is unquestionable. Unlike his first wife Lucrezia de Medici who comes from the upstart family of Medici who comes from common ancestors of bankers.

Upon first coming
Dec 18, 2014 Jane rated it really liked it
What a marvelous idea for this enthralling novel! From Robert Browning's interior-monologue poem "My last duchess" as a jumping-off point, the author has fashioned a plausible mystery. Set in 16th century Ferrara, Italy, the novel tells how Barbara, Archduchess of Austria and second wife to Alfonso d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, investigates every lead as to the murder of Alfonso's first wife. She believes him when he says he didn't do it, although he **is** a frightening, arrogant figure. She investi ...more
Apr 21, 2011 Cindy rated it it was amazing
an amazing debut.
wonderfully written with rich detail,
and a well drawn heroine who certainly
deserves center stage. there is intrigue,
plots and murder. the climax had my
heart thumping! i loved that it was
inspired and based much on a poem by
robert browning.

definitely recommended to everyone who
loves historicals and mysteries or simply
a well written novel that will whisk you
away to another time and place.

can't wait to read more from loupas.
Mar 27, 2011 Naomi rated it it was amazing
The main character of this book, Barbara, is an incredibly strong female character which normally signals a like for me...I am not sure though if I should feel sympathy for her for what she has been thrust into, admiration for her "response" or both. On a side note, this has been an incredibly slow read for me as there is alot of information to absorb..but well worth the time! It is a 5 star read for me!!!
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 2 Feb 11, 2015 08:57AM  
With which one to start? 4 22 Aug 29, 2012 11:03AM  
Alfonso 3 32 May 05, 2012 02:56PM  
ghost 2 16 Aug 22, 2011 08:55PM  
New Publication Date 1 15 Sep 16, 2010 06:11AM  
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I live near the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.

I hate housework, cold weather, and wearing shoes. I love animals, gardens, and popcorn. Not surprisingly I live in a state of happy barefoot chaos with my delightful and faintly bemused husband (the Broadcasting Legend), my herb garden, my popcorn popper, and two beagles.
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