This classic novel, written by Alessandro Manzoni and first published in 1827, which I have been reading now for a week, is extraordinary and reminds me of the joy I felt when reading other long, religious, and romantic 19th century novels when I was in prison, like The Wandering Jew and Les Miserables.
I connected to it from a mention that it is one of Pope Francis’ favorite books in the recent interview with him published in America Magazine, where the Holy Father says: “I have read The Betrothed, by Alessandro Manzoni, three times, and I have it now on my table because I want to read it again. Manzoni gave me so much. When I was a child, my grandmother taught me by heart the beginning of The Betrothed: ‘That branch of Lake Como that turns off to the south between two unbroken chains of mountains….’” and now that I am reading it I can see why.
Wikipedia’s entry tells you all you need to know about the book, but will be somewhat of a spoiler if you plan to read it, which I suggest you do, and the edition I have, by Everymans Library is exquisite.