Review: Moll Flanders

Moll Flanders (Signet Classics)Moll Flanders
by Daniel Defoe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Moll Flanders / 0-451-52633-3

Defoe's novel, Moll Flanders, one of the first English novels follows the "true" story of a lower-class woman who eventually turns to a life of petty thievery and prostitution - partly as a means to survive, and partly in the hopes of reaching a middle-class life of relative riches and ease.

This thin little novel is a fairly quick read and the story pacing moves at a quick clip as we read through the salacious and scandalous life of this matron. Moll Flanders is not particularly clever nor particularly beautiful, but she is persistent, dogged, and increasingly amoral enough to make a life for herself above and beyond desperate poverty. Through the course of her life, Moll takes several husbands, bears multiple children, and chooses to view her life with pride and detachment, rather than with the shame she 'ought' to feel. In this regard, Moll is perhaps the most modern of historical novel characters, because she views with a jaundiced eye the societal norms which would compel her to pious poverty, and because she recognizes that the 'shameful' things she does to survive, the gentry do on a much wider (if more socially acceptable) scale.

~ Ana Mardoll

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