I used a combination of Notepad and Netscape's Composer program for my websites. Notepad was the exclusive program back in 1992, Hotdog was helpful in 1996, but still needed lots of tweaking in Notepad.
Frontpage Express that came with Windows 98 was simply terrible, along with any version of Netscape Composer after 4.75 until 6.1. They create too much code and things don't work the way they were programmed. Microsoft Word will even save HTML files, the drawback is about ten times too much code and terrible image transfer.
Now I have the 30 day trial of Dreamweaver and am really enjoying it. The 30 days is more than enough time to create a basic webpage and for the hard core types, more than enough to deploy a corporate site.
Do a search on "web site templates." Download some of the free ones that catch your fancy. Open them in Dreamweaver, Frontpage, or even any of the free WYSIWYG editors, and change the content text from theirs to yours.
Check your internet service provider to see if you get free web space with your service. Several providers include web site space and page creation programs.
Geocities, Angelfire, and Tripod still have page creation programs if you can stand pop-up advertising.
If you see some effect on a website that you would like to copy, use the "Edit" "View Source" option and read through the code of the web page. Cut and paste into your editor, then play with it. Most web masters get cranky if their images are copied without permission, but an email will typically either give permission or suggestions on where to find similar images. (One answer was simply "NO!") Hopefully you have your own pictures, either taken digitally or scanned in, and you can use those. Don't worry about image file size or anything else until you have your first page up.
For books, it's hard to beat "HTML for Dummies." Anything that looks or acts like a serious programming book should be avoided as the information is widely available, free, online. Do a search on "HTML beginners" for thousands of tutorials and samples.
Remember to have fun with this.