Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
on 15 June 2012
I continued my current re-reading of the classics in Kindle versions with this one, first read 40 years ago, and I was pleased to have my fond memories of it refreshed. One of the earliest British novels, this masquerades as a memoir, with Defoe handling the female perspective of the eponymous heroine just as well as he did Robinson Crusoe. I call her 'heroine' though Moll's adventures as sometime prostitute and recidivist thief would seem to disqualify her from such a status but for her late redemption and reform. In any case, we never think of her as a real villain, rather one who is forced by circumstances to make her way in life the best she can. She does admit to being an easy prey to temptation, and she is her own best apologist. As Moll says herself, her 'wicked' life is a lot more interesting to read than her return to virtue and prosperity. We learn a good deal along the way about the harsh conditions of living in late 17th Century England, and of the brutal treatment wrong-doers might expect, both from the courts and, if they catch you, from the mob. Humour and romance help to alleviate the gloom which, along with Moll's winning narrative, always keep us on her side even while she commits her more outrageous sins.
Reviewer David Williams regularly blogs as Writer in the North.