Daniel Defoe’s novel is a delightful 18th century classic. Called “the truest realism in English literature” and “the tale of a hot, earthy wench,” it meets both expectations while also offering a remarkable portrayal of an ingenious mind. Moll is born in Newgate prison to a petty thief and is soon left at the mercy of whoever will take her in. From this unfavorable beginning, the lusty, resourceful Moll loves and bargains her way from rags to riches, from prostitution in the streets of London to prosperity on a Virginia plantation. Along the way, she offers a charmingly candid view of her life and times. His colorful characters like Robinson Crusoe earned Daniel Defoe instant popular acclaim. In Moll Flanders, he created a beautiful woman who still holds a unique place in British literature. Through Virginia Leishman’s sparkling narration, she steps from the pages full of exuberance and spontaneity.
Moll Flanders was, according to the long title of this work, "twelve year a Whore, five time a Wife (whereof once to her own brother), twelve year a Thief, eight year a transported Felon in Virginia," etc. Virginia Leishman's rendering of this novel is virtually flawless; it's well modulated, with no mispronunciations, stumbles or pauses. Still, it must be said that she seems overly controlled, too flat, more suitable for Jane Austen's well-appointed sitting rooms than for Moll Flanders' rumpled sheets. Earthiness, sensuality, high drama in the storytelling are needed to breathe excitement into an exciting narrative.
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