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.
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.
Public Domain (P)1996 Recorded Books, LLC
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
The best part of this book is the historical perspective of just how bawdy and irreverent a book written in 1722 could be. The narration is particularly good, often rising to an excellent performance (not just a reading). To a listener with a modern perspective there is little sensational, exciting or even very amusing about Moll Flanders. I had an occasional chuckle or sigh and I learned some things, but not very often. I am sure when this was written it was much more exciting than it now seems. I liked Robinson Crusoe and A Journal of the Plague Year quite a bit better than Moll Flanders. This is very dated, but is not at all badly written, and is historically interesting.
Although this book was written as a cautionary tail of how not to live your life, I thought Moll Flanders was an admirable heroine. Besides the fact that she popped out ten babies and never raised a single one of them.
I'm astounded at the age of this book. While it is very outdated, it isn't at the same time. What I mean by this is, while doctors today would never diagnose a high fever as love sickness, and we don't rely on horses as transportation, basic human nature has not changed. The characters express the same hopes and desires that we have. This book is timeless.
And I learned a few things by listening to this book. For instance, did you know that imported lace was banned in nearly all European countries? Lace was so valuable that it could be used as currency. So each country wanted to profit from local lace sales and not contribute to the wealth of other countries.
It was worth the read just for that little tidbit of knowledge that took me on an hour long internet search.
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