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.