The Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi) presents a caleidoscope of individual stories, which are all tied together by the story of Lucia and Renzo, two young persons of humble origin that are deeply in love with one another. However, despite their great attachment, they are prevented from marrying by the cruel Don Rodrigo, who has himself cast an eye on the beautiful and pious Lucia. Don Rodrigo menaces the priest who was to perform the wedding ceremony, who then refuses to do his duty.
This is the Italian equivalent of "War and Peace", the English equivalent of "David Copperfield" and the American equivalent of "Gone With the Wind".
It's a mystery why this great novel and love story is not better known outside of Italy. It has everything--love, intrigue, excitement, mystery, war.
In short, read it. You will not be disappointed.