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September 20, 2007

Francesca recommends books

Filed under: Books — Francesca @ 8:53 am

These are 3 very different books, about which Francesca often thinks, and to which Francesca often returns.

The Handmaid’s Tale is a futuristic take on what would happen if a male oligarchy took over American society at the same time that fertility rates plummeted. Told from the perspective of a concubine, this story is truly unforgettable – a feminist nightmare, really. Very juicy and compelling.

First published in 1868, The Moonstone is considered the first mystery novel in the English language; it set frameworks such as multiple suspects and red herrings. The story begins when a young British girl receives a large and mysterious diamond, rumored to have been stolen from India, for her birthday. It is stolen that night from her home, and the subsequent investigation is detailed by a few different (often humorous) narrators, such as house servants and guests from the celebration. If you don’t mind 19th-century language, and you like mysteries (as does Francesca!) then this is a satisfying read. (It also works as a literary relic of Imperial England.)

Joy in the Morning is the least-known of Francesca’s favorite books, despite its having been written by the author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It is the story of a young, newly-married couple and their conflicts: she is 18 and uneducated, he is in college taking the classes she only dreams of attending; they are poor; their parents are against the marriage; and she gets pregnant (after the wedding). No, this is not an early version of “For Keeps.” It’s a charming and inspiring book, with a heroine who is both naive and plucky.

Happy reading!

xoxo, Francesca


  1. Oh Wilkie Collins! How I love thee. I just read The Woman in White and it is one of my favorite books now. I’ll definitely check out The Moonstone. And A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is another one of my favorite books, so Joy in the Morning is now on my short list.

    Our great minds are clearly thinking alike, book-wise.

    Comment by Ottermatic — September 20, 2007 @ 10:44 am

  2. Oooo I just read that Joy in the Morning is about a girl who moves from the east coast to Chicago… JUST LIKE I DID. Now I’m super excited. Thanks for the recommendations!

    Comment by Ottermatic — September 20, 2007 @ 10:51 am

  3. i love all three books… another one by Betty Smith i loved years ago was “Maggie Now”. and The Woman in White — absolutely great! the francesca has the most exquisite taste in the books.

    Comment by bonnie-ann black — September 20, 2007 @ 2:26 pm

  4. I love book recommendations – from intelligent people with oodles of style and class, that is. Have been on a bit of an autobiography kick lately, after I discovered V.S. Pritchett’s short stories I tracked down his memoir A Cab At The Door, which I can’t recommend highly enough.

    Comment by Margo — September 20, 2007 @ 4:51 pm

  5. I looooove A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! I never new there were more books by the same author. Also, I second Handmaid’s Tale- its a little scary when compared to some current laws, hint hint. Terrifying.

    Comment by Jen — September 20, 2007 @ 7:52 pm

  6. I’ll never forget the first time I read The Handmaid’s Tale. (shivers) Brilliant stuff. It was my introduction to Margaret Atwood. She’s written a lot of terrific books, but hands down, Handmaid’s Tale is my favorite. Still, I’d never try to stop anyone from reading, say, The Edible Woman.

    I enjoyed The Moonstone when I was eighteen, but somehow have never read it again or picked up anything else of Wilkie Collins’. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s time to re-introduce him into my reading world. Then again, I’m also thinking it’s time for me to read War and Peace again.

    Good books make boon companions.

    Comment by Twistie — September 20, 2007 @ 8:00 pm

  7. Oryx and Crake is another chilling futuristic cautionary tale by Margaret Atwood – I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale.

    Comment by the unfashionista — September 20, 2007 @ 8:58 pm

  8. Margaret Atwood is the best. Oryx and Crake is my second fave after Handmaid…third on the list is The Robber Bride, which is intelligent, yet somehow manages to be a fantastic “beach read”.

    Comment by Jenna — September 21, 2007 @ 5:42 am

  9. I don’t know why but Margaret Atwood bores the @#$ out of me and I had to find that out through “A Handmaid’s Tale” in AP English. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with a decent education above age 15.

    I grew up in Williamsburg, where “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn” takes place. It’s nice to learn about my town’s history – before my time when the blacks and the Puerto Ricans held it and before the current gentrification embodied by the mass exodus of pretentious art and film students from the Midwest. My piano teacher lived there in the 60s and continues to live there now. She confirmed a lot of the racial/religious strife that went on in that area.

    Comment by Ninjarina — September 24, 2007 @ 1:37 am

  10. Just finished Joy in the Morning. A fairly quick read, and a nice tale – thanks for the recommendation. (Have already read A Handmaid’s Tale, not quite up to tackling Wilkie Collins yet.)

    Comment by oliviacw — September 24, 2007 @ 1:57 am

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