I’m back in London for a quick 1001 side trip. Moll Flanders was the 1001 Books Group Read for mid-June to mid-July. The next group read is Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. That is one very weird transition, but the books are generated randomly from the list, so there you go!
The current July to September score-card looks like this:
- Orange July 1 2 3
- Around the World: Africa: 1, 2 Asia 1 South America 1 2 3 4 5 6 Other countries 1 2 3 4
- 1001 Books
1 23 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
- Nobel: July Aug Sept
- Pulitzer: July Aug Sept
- Great Africa Reads: July Aug Sept
Ok, so on to my review of Dafoe’s novel, which I actually enjoyed quite a bit.
I did not expect Moll Flanders, written in the 1720s, to be such an easy read. Moll Flanders, which she tells us is not her real name, started life in the early 17th century with no advantages. The child of a woman arrested while pregnant, she was given into the care of strangers from the start. As would be expected, her life did not go smoothly, although her beauty and intelligence allowed her to make the most of opportunities that presented themselves. At first, she was simply unfortunate, and the victim of circumstances and the less-than-pure motives of those around her. Later, she began to survive illegally and by her wits, and even later, she comes to enjoy her life of cunning and crime. However, she is never without conscience or without an ability to connect meaningfully with others. By the end, she is able to build an honest life for herself. Daniel Defoe‘s prose is clear and direct. There are a few usage differences: “backwards” had a meaning then that we don’t use now, but really, the book reads quite easily even to a 21st century reader. The plot is not gripping, but it moves along, and Moll is a sympathetic enough character that it is worth following her convoluted journey to see where it ends up. One of the things I really enjoyed was the writing about the American colonies of the period, not from a historical fiction perspective, but from a contemporary voice.