Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (Review)

Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe


The novel follows the life of its eponymous heroine, Moll Flanders, through its many vicissitudes, which include her early seduction, careers in crime and prostitution, conviction for theft and transportation to the plantations of Virginia, and her ultimate redemption and prosperity in the New World. Moll Flanders was one of the first social novels to be published in English and draws heavily on Defoe’s experience of the topography and social conditions prevailing in the London of the late 17th century.


This is my second classic of the year and I could not put it down. Defoe is also a new author for me and I was not disappointed. The novel is supposedly an autobiography and was first published as an autobiography rather than saying by Defoe. 

Moll was born in Newgate prison and then put into a children’s home where she honed her skill with needlework and developed her skills and character to be taken in by a wealthy family. Then things became interesting in Moll’s life but one thing that Moll knows how to do is survive. 

Moll is always striving to make money, to become a wealthy woman because this means security. To make this money Moll tries to marry well even if this means tricking men into thinking she is wealthy so she can get to their fortunes. This leads to Moll marrying five times. She also plays the role of mistress to certain wealthy men and then she becomes a master criminal but through all of this she saves whatever money she can and tries to gain that security she strives for. 

I loved the character of Moll because you never knew what she had planned next. She changed her name to hide from undesirables and knew how to stay hidden. She knew how to take advantage of situations and she definitely knew how to make a man fall head over heels in love with her. She also never let anything hold her back especially her children who she clearly did not care about. To be honest I spent a lot of time wondering where some of them had disappeared to as they just seemed to vanish from the story. It was also quite clear that the only child she showed any affection for was because she knew she had something to gain from that affection. 

This book has humour, adventure, danger, romance and much more and I couldn’t help but root for the woman who is at times very mischievous and does tend to hurt people. I absolutely loved this book and give it 5 out of 5 dragons. 


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About the author

Daniel Defoe (1659/1661 [?] – 1731) was an English writer, journalist, and spy, who gained enduring fame for his novel The life and strange surprising adventures of Robinson Crusoe: of York, mariner (1719). Defoe is notable for being one of the earliest practitioners of the novel and helped popularise the genre in Britain. In some texts he is even referred to as one of the founders, if not the founder, of the English novel. A prolific and versatile writer, he wrote more than five hundred books, pamphlets, and journals on various topics (including politics, crime, religion, marriage, psychology and the supernatural). He was also a pioneer of economic journalism.

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