Review: Moll Flanders

10:34 Cilla P 0 Comments

Title: (The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous) Moll Flanders
Author: Daniel DeFoe
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Source: Parent's collection

'If a woman has not money, she's nobody...'

The conditions of Moll Flanders' birth could not have been more depressing. Her mother was a petty thief who was caught and sent to the notorious Newgate prison in London. It was in that prison that Moll was born. Deemed an orphan, Moll was later sent to apprentice as a servant with a respectable family. Moll has designs on a life better than serving others. But as she discovers, independence and fortune are not easy to come by. A string of dreadful misfortunes - including five luckless marriages - force Moll into the streets, where her only means of support is a life of crime. 

Moll refuses to give up: she will succeed!

Review: ⋆⋆⋆

I slogged through this book for a month, alternating between interest and exasperation. I don't find Classics easy to begin with, and I never quite fell in love with Moll. This was written in the style of an autobiography, and her narration at time falls a little flat for me. Despite all the ups and downs she went through, I was never emotionally drawn to her. Which is a shame, because she's a really fascinating, if not quite lovable, woman. She's strong-willed, resilient, and manipulative. She has rather progressive ideas about women's position in a relationship, though we only really saw this once when she helped a friend punish/lure back a suitor. She gave birth to five children (or more, I lost track), but kept none of them. In her time as a criminal, she stole from children and people whose house was burning down. All in all, not a saint, but you couldn't blame her given she was just trying to survive.  

The book covered sixty years of her life, and there was adultery, crime, incest - all sort of scandalous things. There were moments in the book that woke me up - Moll, or rather DeFoe, relates a plot twist in a rather matter-of-fact manner that actually makes the twist more surprising. Nevertheless, I really struggled to maintain interest. Apart from the lack of connection with Moll, it might also be because I love dialogues, and 90% of the interaction in this book is told through reported speeches. There are some things I'd love to discuss about the story, but mostly I'm just glad I got it over and done with.


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